Police: Mafia ripped off EU for millions in farm aid

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Italian prosecutors say crime clans of the Sicilian Mafia have defrauded the European Union of more than 10 million euros ($11 million) in agricultural aid

ROME —
Italian authorities allege say crime clans of the Sicilian Mafia have defrauded the European Union of more than 10 million euros ($11 million) in agricultural aid.

Officers from the Italy’s paramilitary Carabinieri and financial police fanned out across Sicily at dawn Wednesday to execute 94 arrest warrants.

National anti-Mafia Prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said thousands of hectares (acres) of farmland in eastern Sicily fraudulently qualified for aid.

Some of the land in the alleged fraud scheme is within the Nebrodi public parkland, a hilly region popular for grazing.

Local public administrators and a notary public were arrested with suspected mobsters near Messina.

In past years, farmers who refused to be involved with fraudulent practices reported threats from Cosa Nostra.

Authorities planned to give details at a news conference in Messina later Wednesday.

Suspects were arrested for investigation of belonging to the Mafia or aiding it, extortion and fraud involving public funds, among other accusations.

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