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Italy seizes $1.76 billion from builders linked to Mafia

ROME -- Italian authorities have seized 1.6 billion euros ($1.76 billion) in wealth from Sicilian construction company officials with alleged ties to Mafia crime families in Corleone, a longtime Cosa Nostra stronghold.

Raids target mafia drug smuggling in Italy and U.S.

Carabinieri police Col. Riccardo Sciuto said Wednesday the builders had made deals with the Cosa Nostra, enabling them to win public contracts "at the expense of honest businessmen."

Investigators say the infiltration of construction contracts, thanks to mobsters working inside local governments or the connivance of corrupt politicians, provides a lucrative income to the Mafia.

According to Reuters, Adelmo Lusi, the vice chief of [anti-mafia police] DIA operations, called the seizure "one of the biggest the DIA has carried out in its 20-year history."

Aided by turncoats, prosecutors have put many of the Corleone clan's top bosses, including longtime fugitives, in prison. Mainland-based crime syndicates have eclipsed the weakened Sicilian Mafia in influence in international drug trafficking, but corruption and extortion still enrich the Sicilian Mafia.

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