Italian police on Tuesday arrested 16 people for suspected Mafia ties, including a man believed to have escorted the mob's top fugitive to a clinic in France years ago.
The arrests were carried out in pre-dawn raids across the country, from Sicily to the northern city of Ravenna , the Carabinieri paramilitary police in Palermo , the Sicilian capital, said.
Those arrested include business executives, especially in the construction sector, and local politicians, accused of colluding with the Mafia to allow for the construction of a shopping mall in Sicily .
Five people were placed under house arrest.
The suspects were arrested for extortion, paying bribes and associating with the Mafia, among other charges.
Police said at least one of those arrested was believed to have escorted top fugitive Bernardo Provenzano to Marseille , France , where he is believed to have convalesced after surgery in 2003.
Provenzano is believed to have taken over the Sicilian Mafia following the 1993 arrest of the reputed top boss Salvatore Riina. He has been on the run for more than 40 years.
Tuesday's arrests stemmed from information provided by two informants, police said, reports the AP.