31 arrested in anti-mafia operations in Italy

ROME, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Italian police arrested 31 people on Thursday in a major operation launched against a powerful clan of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mob.

Those arrested were charged with mafia criminal association, murder, kidnapping, extortion, robbery and illegal detentions of weapons.

About 500 military police officers carried out the raid, which was focused on the historical mafia stronghold of Bagheria near the regional capital Palermo. The operation would write-off an entire leadership of Cosa Nostra, according to prosecutors.

Investigators said they found proof the bosses of Bagheria acted in the last decade as a specific "directorate" of the Sicilian mafia, a decision-making body ruling over the whole province.

No company or commercial activity in the district could avoid their control or interference, provincial police chief Pierangelo Iannotti told local media.

Among the people under arrest, prosecutors identified the alleged perpetrators of a murder and an attempt murder, 44 cases of extortions and various robberies.

Two new mafia turncoats gave a "crucial contribution" to the probe, helping to unveil the power-system of Bagheria district, investigators said.