Mayor, five town councillors held for mafia links in Italy

Rome, July 13 (IANS/AKI) A mayor and five town councillors were among 38 people arrested in a major anti-mafia swoop in southern Italy.

Police also seized assets worth 60 million euros, including 22 companies.

Pasquale Basile, mayor of the coastal town of Scalea, and the other suspects face numerous charges, including mafia association, kidnapping, corruption, fraud, threats and intimidation, extortion, robbery, possessing illegal weapons and rigging public works tenders.

The former head of Scalea's traffic police, the head of the town hall's technical office and several other town council employees were among those arrested, police said.

One of many sectors infiltrated by the mafia was waste disposal, where it paid a bribe of 500,000 euros to obtain one urban solid waste collection contract from the local council, investigators said.

"The situation in Scalea is very serious. Mafia clans have infiltrated the town council, have rigged tenders and intimidated citizens through the use of weapons... it is truly alarming," an official said.

Supermarkets, car dealerships, travel agents, beach resorts, amusement parks, clothing stores, estate agents, and agricultural cooperatives were among the businesses impounded in Friday's operation.

Police also seized 81 properties located in Calabria, Basilicata, Umbria and Lazio, as well as bank accounts, insurance policies, a 50-hectare plot of land, two yachts and 33 vehicles including luxury and vintage cars.

--IANS/AKI

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