Is it possible to obtain something good from a bad story of drug trafficking? The answer, against any prediction, is yes. Drug seizures in the continuing fight against smuggling are common but perhaps someone will remember what happened in Rome in the torrid august 2012 because of its peculiarity. The tax police officers, due to the very strong smell of marijuana, discovered in the area of Torpignattara, near the station Casilina, under the vault (detail that was incredible) of the Bank of Italy, a huge greenhouse set up inside a tunnel, with access from via degli Angeli and, ironically, crossing via degli Oppii. The gallery was dug in the times of the fascism (it is known as the tunnel of the Duce) for the project of a subway, but then was abandoned. Over the years in the surroundings have been built apartments and houses, some of them also abusive, and at the entrance of the tunnel, now owned by the Metro spa, someone set up a mushroom bed. But in reality, it served to hide a production of “grass” on industrial scale, on a surface of about 7 hectares. The tax police seized 340 kilos of drugs and estimated that the traffickers could obtain up to 2-3 tons of marijuana per year. A work of high chemical, biological and hydraulic engineering: to give an idea, the lamps reproduced the alternation of day and night and the temperature reproduced the seasons. A very sophisticated greenhouse, with high-technology. Even the BBC covered the news and that was considered to be the largest production of drugs in a European city.
Among the equipment used by the traffickers there was also a huge generator set. A plant of the value of 50,000 euro that risked ending up run-down. The reason? The size. How to recover it? It is here that the story takes an unpredictable route, for a random circumstance in the scenario of the tragedy of Amatrice. “While we were engaged in relieving the victims of the earthquake – tells Marco Caffarelli, President of the Civic Voluntary Firemen – we met a tax police officer working in Bologna who was there as a volunteer and that joined our association. He was aware of that generator seized to the drug dealers that was getting spoilt underground and he told us about it. The problem was how to pull it out of the tunnel. Due to its size, it was almost impossible to get it out of the tunnel and then to pull it over a bridge and load it on a truck. Considering it weighs 4.5 tons, it was not a joke”.
In other words, a crane was needed: “Other groups as the fire brigade and the Red Cross had given up – explains Caffarelli – We believed in it and we worked on it”. Thanks to the Guardia di Finanza, we asked for the necessary authorisation to the Public Prosecutor then “a crane operator – continues Caffarelli – agreed to operate without profit. So yesterday we managed to pull out the generator set that once fixed (with a cost of approximately 3000 euro, editor’s note) will be ready to be taken wherever it is needed.” The plant has a power of 390 kw and can provide electricity to 130 apartments: easy to imagine how useful can it be in emergency situations.
But that’s not all. The Civic Voluntary Firemen, established on 19 October 2008, which currently can count on fifty volunteers, has in the pipeline another initiative: “We have not yet taken a final decision but if the authorities will give it to us, we could adopt the area of the tunnel – explains Caffarelli – The idea is to use it both as a park for our biggest vehicles, for which we have no place in our headquarter, and as a training place for the USAR (Urban, Search and Rescue) teams specialised in the search and rescue of dispersed people in the urban context. The tunnel has materials and conditions which are well suited for this purpose. In addition to the formation of teams of the Civil Protection, once cleared and properly arranged, the area could also be made available for educational and training activities for the population”.
The Civic Voluntary Firemen operate primarily in the context of the III Municipality of Rome but being in agreement with the Region, they can act throughout Lazio and, in case of necessity at the request of the Civil Protection, throughout the national territory. In addition to interventions in the areas of forest fire, flooding and falling trees, the group has various specializations, in particular the rope teams, which were engaged in the areas affected by the earthquake also for the rescue of the victims.