Arrest warrants for 69 suspects were issued in an operation code-named “the Queen” after the surname of Guglielmo La Regina, a construction company owner and the suspected linchpin of a network that fixed 18 major public contracts.
The suspects face charges of corruption and tender-rigging in favour of the so-called Casalesi cartel, a notorious branch of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra.
The investigation was described as a “judicial earthquake” by the newspaper La Repubblica, with ten local authorities affected across an area spanning Naples and the nearby city of Caserta.
The contracts being investigated include those for the construction of the Mostra d'Oltremare, a new conference centre in Naples, as well as a second university for the city and a new archaeological museum near the site of a still mostly buried Roman amphitheatre at Alife.
The contract to build a new crematorium at Pompei, the modern town next to the famous Roman site of Pompeii, is also under scrutiny.
A current regional councillor and a former mayor of Pompei were reportedly among the individuals detained. The police were expected to provide further details at a press conference later on Wednesday.