140 arrests made in Italian anti-mafia sweep

ROME, June 8, 2011 (AFP) - Italian police arrested more than 140 suspected mafia members including local politicians on Wednesday for drug trafficking, extortion and fraud in a sweep against the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

Some 1,300 police officers took part in the operation in Milan, Modena and Turin as well as Reggio Calabria in the southern stronghold of the 'Ndrangheta -- one of the most secretive and feared criminal organisations in the world.

In Turin alone, police said in a statement they had seized assets worth 70 million euros (103 million dollars) including villas, bank accounts and land.

The investigation, codenamed "Minotaur", has been going on for four years.

The 'Ndrangheta is based in the Calabria region but has a wide international network. It plays a key role in global drug trafficking and has an estimated annual turnover in the tens of billions of euros (dollars).

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