Seven Carabinieri were arrested Wednesday and a barracks belonging to the paramilitary police impounded in the northern city of Piacenza.
Some of the Carabinieri were detained in prison and some were placed under house arrest.
They have been charged with drug trafficking, extortion and torture, among other offences, sources said.
The probe is led by the Piacenza prosecutors’ office.
“Nothing that went on that barracks was legal, they were out-and-out criminals,” said Piacenza Chief Prosecutor Grazia Pradella about the Carabinieri involved.
“We are confronted by shocking crimes, especially if you think they were committed by police officers,” she said.
The seven men have been charged with trafficking and distributing narcotics, receiving stolen goods, extortion, illegal arrest, torture, grievous bodily harm, embezzlement, abuse o office and fraud.
Pradella said the most serious of the alleged crimes had been commited during the coronavirus lockdown from early March to early June.
She said that “while the city of Piacenza was counting its many dead from the coronavirus, these Carabinieri were supplying drugs to pushers who had run out and were confined to their homes because of the anti-COVID norms”.
Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini, who is the ultimate commander of the Carabinieri corps, said “these are unheard of crimes, but they must not be allowed to tarnish the Carabinieri’s reputation as a whole”.
He said the corps was “made up of 110,000 men and women who work daily with an extremely high sense of the institutions, on the side of citizens”.
The Carabinieri have been suspended.
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