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Italian police arrest 37, seize $13 million in Mafia blitz

ROME — Italian police said they seized $13 million in assets and arrested 37 people, including two Carabinieri officers, accused in a Sicilian Mafia extortion racket involving fruit, fish, and drugs.

Police said one victim was the owner of a swank Via Veneto restaurant in Rome who was forced to come up with $212,000 after receiving threats from mobsters over deliveries of fruit and vegetables.

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Two Carabinieri officers are accused of illegally using information from a police database to extort the owner, who eventually went to police.

The investigation focused on the Rinzivillo family of Sicily, and its drug-dealing envoys in Germany. It showed how Cosa Nostra had infiltrated Rome businesses, using legitimate fresh and frozen fish front companies, and made alliances with other organized crime groups.

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‘‘Since the summer of 2014, we have been facing a recognizable, visible organizational structure of an important Mafia family from Agrigento, the Rinzivillo,’’ said prosecutor Michele Prestipino Giarrita.

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