A town mayor is among those accused of corruption in the investigation into ties between the 'Ndrangheta mafia clan and the worlds of business and politics.
Edoardo Mazza, the mayor of Seregno in Monza province representing Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, was placed under house arrest. Mazza is accused of corruption for awarding construction contracts to groups linked to the 'Ndrangheta, according to Rai News.
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In total, 21 people were arrested, while three were placed under house arrest and another three also face charges. The charges include extortion, abuse of office, bodily harm, drug trafficking, and bribery, all of which are aggravated due to the connection to aggravated crime.
The investigation, which has been coordinated by Milan's anti-mafia authority (DDA) and prosecutors in Monza, northeast of Milan, began in 2015 and included arrests across the Lombardy region, in Monza, Milan, Pavia, Como and Reggio Calabria.
The stronghold of the 'Ndrangheta is in Calabria, the toe of Italy's boot, but arrests over the past two years show it is operating in northern Italy.
Police believe it has grown bigger than the more well known Sicilian and Neapolitan mafias through its successful cocaine trafficking from Latin America.
In May, 14 people were arrested as part of a probe into mafia infiltration of businesses including budget supermarket Lidl. Four of Lidl's ten management sections in Italy, located in Lombardy, Piedmont, and Sicily, were handed over to State control, and Milan judge Ilda Boccassini said the case showed “an evolution of the system of corruption in Italy” and that “corruption is rampant in Milan”.
And back in 2013, a local council in the province of Milan was dissolved over suspected links to the criminal underworld, the first case of its kind in Lombardy.