Police seize missile, guns, Nazi memorabilia in sting tied to far-right extremists in Italy

Ryan W. Miller
Police stand by a missile seized at an airport hangar near Pavia, northern Italy, following an investigation into Italians who took part in the Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Police in northern Italy arrested three men, at least one of whom had been a member of a neo-fascist political party, after uncovering a massive cache of weapons, Nazi paraphernalia and a missile that they were allegedly attempting to sell.

Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, who had run for a legislative office as a member the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party, was among the three men arrested Monday, according to the AFP.

Police said their investigation began about a year ago in the city of Turin as authorities were looking into Italian extremists connected with a Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Multiple assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, bayonets and ammo were among the weaponry police seized from Del Bergiolo's house, along with antique Nazi plaques featuring swastikas.

An air-to-air missile was also seized in Pavia and, while there were no explosives in it, was in working condition, police said.

The missile was more than 11 feet long and made in France. The men were hoping to sell if for more than half a million dollars, the AFP reported, citing Italian media.

The two other men arrested were a Swiss citizen, 42, and an Italian citizen, 51, who allegedly were trying to sell the missile with Del Bergiolo as an intermediary, the Guardian reported.

"This is a significant seizure, with few precedents in Italy," Turin police commissioner Giuseppe De Matteis said, per the AFP.

"We have some idea about what the seized equipment could be used for, but will not speculate," he added.

Del Bergiolo unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2001 with the Forza Nuova party, which distanced itself from the former candidate in a statement, the AFP reported.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Italy police find missile, Nazi memorabilia in sting tied to far-right