Italian Town Fires Entire Government Over Mafia Connections

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A small town in southern Italy found itself with out a municipal government on Tuesday, when the Italian government literally sacked its entire city council due to its mafia connections. Said town, Reggio Calabria, is a lovely little place right on the toe of Italy that's known for its rare magnolias, stunning bronze sculptures and, apparently, endemic organized crime problem. We're not talking about a small town, by the way. Reggio Calabria is the provincial capital, roughly the size of Salt Lake City.

The trouble started last year when police arrested a city counselor under suspicion that he had ties with the wealthy 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate. According to the BBC, 'Ndrangheta has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra as Italy's most powerful organized crime outfit, described by the head of Italy's police force as "perhaps the strongest, the most present (organised crime force) in the field of drugs."

Next came a crackdown of local 'Ndrangheta leaders -- that's one of them getting hauled away by the Carabinieri. (Sometime in the near future, can we talk about how stylish Italy's national police are? That's a flaming grenade on their hats, and it looks fantastic.) Because the 'Ndrangheta are such a serious force, the issue bubbled up to the cabinet who decided to take some preventative measures.

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They didn't take any chances. Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri explained the decision to dissolve the city council at a press conference. "This decision to dissolve the municipal council is not due to instability, but due to continguity with circles that could cause problems [with Mafia organisations]." Until an election can be organized, the city will be run by three commissioners who have an 18 month mandate to clean house as needed. In the meantime, don't be afraid to visit. It really is a pretty town!

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.