Italy cracks down on Sicilian construction officials with alleged ties to Corleone crime clans

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.

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.

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.