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Anti-mafia raids target Rome, Calabria

File picture shows a police patrol in Rome on April 29, 2013
File picture shows a police patrol in Rome on April 29, 2013. Italian police said they launched two major anti-mafia operations Friday in Rome and the southern region of Calabria, targeting around 100 people

Italian police said they launched two major anti-mafia operations Friday in Rome and the southern region of Calabria, targeting around 100 people.

The Rome operation, described by Italian media as the largest ever undertaken in the capital region, targeted people who helped lead "illegal activities" in the city and the suburb of Ostia, police spokesman Mario Viola told AFP.

The second, entirely separate operation targeted members of the Ndrangheta in Catanzaro, Calabria, Viola said, adding that no less than 50 arrest warrants were issued for each of the operations.

In Calabria, the arrest warrants concerned "50 to 70 people, including entrepreneurs, politicians and lawyers", Viola said.

According to Italy's news agency Ansa, some 500 police officers took part in the Rome operation, "the largest ever undertaken" by the police in and around the capital. A helicopter, dog units and maritime police took part in it.

The warrants were the result of a long operation in Rome during which investigators uncovered "every criminal step in the mafia organisation," police said, from the adoption of new members into the fold to deals between bosses over territory.

Gangsters were also caught planning murders which they considered "necessary to guarantee and keep control of" profit-making activities in the area.

In Calabria, the heartland of the 'Ndrangheta, arrest warrants were issued for 65 people in Lamezia Terme, in the Catanzaro region, including "businessmen, politicians and lawyers," as well as doctors and prison employees, Viola said.

On top of mafia association, some of them are also accused of playing a role in several murders committed during a mafia-on-mafia war between 2005 and 2011.

The 'Ndrangheta -- whose name comes from the Greek word for courage or loyalty -- has a tight clan structure which has made it famously difficult to penetrate.

It runs an international crime network from its base in the southern region of Calabria and has been linked to operations across western and northern Europe and as far afield as the Americas and Australia.

Its core criminal activities are drug and arms trafficking, prostitution, extortion and illegal construction.

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