300 arrested in Italy crime gang raids

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Some 300 people were arrested today as Italian police carried out a major crackdown on a powerful crime gang in a pre-dawn swoop, news reports said.

Millions of dollars worth of property was also seized.

The reports by Italian news agencies said today's raids were centred on northern cities where the Calabria-based 'ndrangheta gang has been making major inroads.

The reports said at least 3,000 police were involved in the investigation. Charges include murder, extortion, arms and drug trafficking and criminal association.

The 'ndrangheta, linked to crime around the world, is now considered more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia.

The biggest operation was in the Milan region of Lombardy, where 160 people were reportedly arrested.

They included businessmen and the director of state medical services in the city of Pavia.