Italy police swoop on Mafia near Rome and in Calabria

Italy map

Italian police have arrested at least 50 people in a big anti-Mafia operation in the coastal region near Rome.

About 500 police officers, backed by dog units, a helicopter and coastal patrol boats are involved.

A police operation was also launched in the southern Calabria region, a hotbed of 'Ndrangheta Mafia crime.

The Rome crackdown, focused on the coastal suburb of Ostia, is said to be the largest yet in or near the capital. Three crime clans are being targeted.

Italy's Corriere della Sera says a "mortal blow" has been delivered to the Fasciani, Triassi and D'Agati clans, who have dominated organised crime for years in that region.

The Triassi clan is reported to have close ties to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra crime network.

Police had been able to monitor the mafiosi not only as they met to settle disputes and divide up territory, but also as they planned murders, Italian media report.

Image caption It is unusual for Mafia gangs to be targeted in or near the Italian capital

Professionals under suspicion

The operation in the south led to 65 arrests, including doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs, in the town of Lamezia Terme, Italy's Ansa news agency reports.

As part of that operation Senator Piero Aiello, a member of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, is under investigation, Ansa reports.

Police seized 200m euros' (£173m; $266m) worth of assets from five businessmen, suspected of involvement with the Giampa clan of the Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta crime network.

The suspects include Gianpaolo Bevilacqua, vice president of the company that runs Lamezia Terme airport and a former provincial councillor for the PdL.

The Giampa clan is suspected of an insurance fraud, used to fund arms and drugs and to pay mafiosi.

Police are also investigating murders committed in a clan war that raged in 2005-2011.

The 'Ndrangheta is now reckoned to be Italy's most powerful mafia, having overtaken Sicily's Cosa Nostra. The 'Ndrangheta operates across Europe and has connections with Colombian drug cartels.

More on this story