policija italija.jpg
Photograph: poliziadistato.it

Italian police jailed 100 people and placed another three under house arrest in a Wednesday raid against a notorious Mafia clan in eastern Sicily specialized in racketeering and extortion.

Carabinieri military police targeted members of the Laudani crime family, based in Catania. Among those arrested was clan elder Sebastiano Laudani, aged 89, who was placed under house arrest, and three women who dealt with bookkeeping.

Prosecutors had issued 109 arrest warrants, but the Carabinieri did not manage to apprehend six suspects.

The Laudanis were described in a police statement as "one of the most entrenched and dangerous" crime syndicates of the area, separate from mainstream Cosa Nostra Mafia structures, and with links to the Calabrian Ndrangheta.

"This clan was a real cancer," Catania Mayor Enzo Bianco said, reporting that shopkeepers who refused protection money demands "were victims of attacks and assaults. All this created a climate of heavy intimidation that terrorized businessmen."

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who comes from Sicily, hailed the police sting as "a great day for our people and our country."

"Let's continue down this road [...] so that citizens may have the strength to break free from those criminals who want to keep hostage Sicily's economy and its citizens," Alfano said in a statement.

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