Italian police carried out searches and arrests Friday in a crackdown against the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate, days after a local politician was shot dead at a polling station in a murder blamed on the group. Police in the southern Italian city of Catanzaro, which was coordinating the operation, said they were carrying out searches and arrests across the country, but did not disclose details.
Center-left politician Francesco Fortugno was shot and killed Sunday as he voted in a nationwide primary in the small town of Locri, in the Calabria region on the southeastern tip of the Italian mainland where the 'ndrangheta is based.
However, Friday's sweep appeared to be related to a separate murder in 2004, allegedly carried out by the 'ndrangheta, the ANSA news agency said.
Authorities say the 'ndrangheta is eclipsing the Sicilian Mafia in organized crime activities in Italy, the AP informs.
Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said the 'ndrangheta has become "the most deep-rooted, the most powerful and the most aggressive of the Italian criminal organizations."
Addressing parliament on Thursday, the minister said the 'ndrangheta has now branched out internationally, controlling drug trafficking and investing in financial activities worldwide.