One of Italy's largest migrant centres was mafia-run
A police operation in the early hours of the morning led to 68 arrests, many of whom belonged to the Arena clan, part of the powerful Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta mafia, The Local reported.
The clan reportedly made millions through its involvement in the running of a reception centre for migrants in Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Calabria - one of the largest in the country.
"Over 500 agents overnight arrested 68 people... accused of mafia association, extortion, carrying illegal weapons, fraud, embezzlement to the detriment of the state, (and) theft," police in Catanzaro said in a statement.
Their investigation revealed "that the clan controlled, for profit, the management of the reception centre" at Isola di Capo Rizzuto - which has held up to 1,500 migrants at a time - and had been doing so for over a decade.
Police arrested Leonardo Sacco, head of the Catholic Misericordia association which officially runs the centre. The 35-year-old has boasted of links to high-powered political figures.
Local priest Edoardo Scordio was also detained in the sting, according to Italian media reports.
Police believe that it was thanks to Sacco that the clan won contracts for supplying catering and other services to the centre, allowing it to syphon of millions of euros of EU funding destined for the migrants' care. ■