Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Italian police said officers raided the homes of 19 people suspected of attempting to create an extreme right-wing, pro-Nazi political party.
In a statement Thursday, Polizia di Stato said the raids were conducted by anti-terrorism and anti-mafia police under Operation Black Shadows, which targeted extreme right-wing groups united "by the same ideological fanaticism and intending to constitute a pro-Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic movement called 'Italian National Socialist Workers' Party.'"
Police said they seized weapons and propaganda during the raids.
Some of the suspects had access to a "vast amount" of weapons and explosives and had attempted to recruit people to their movement through social media, police said, adding that they also had a closed chatroom called "Militia" that was created for the purpose of training militants.
One suspect whose home was raided had links to the Ndrangheta criminal network, an Italian organized crime group. The suspects also made contact with European extremists and xenophobic organizations such as the Aryan White Machine-C18 and the New Social Order party in Portugal.
Police said the raids were carried out by counterparts in Syracuse, Milan, Monza Brianza, Bergamo, Cremona, Genoa, Imperia, Livorno, Messina, Turin, Cuneo, Padua, Verona, Vicenza and Nuoro.
The raids occurred as the nation grapples with growing anti-Semitism. In 2018, the country recorded 1,111 hate crimes up from 596 in 2014, according to the Poland-based Observatory for anti-Semitism.
Last week, Holocaust survivor and Italian senator Liliana Segre was assigned police protection after receiving hundreds of threats via social media.