ROME (AP) — Police in Sicily have arrested 22 suspected mobsters after businesses, tired of paying the Mafia "protection" money, rebelled and contacted authorities.
Carabinieri police said the suspects from a Cosa Nostra clan in Bagheria, on Palermo's outskirts, were arrested in raids Monday.
Investigators said mobsters, using intimidation methods including arson, systematically extorted money from local construction companies, supermarkets, furniture and clothing stores, produce and fish vendors and cafes.
One businessman was forced to give up his construction company and sell his house after paying tens of thousands of dollars starting in the 1990s.
Intercepted phone calls indicated the extorted money served to support families of imprisoned mobsters.
Wanting a different future, a group of young Sicilians started a courageous anti-extortion campaign several years ago, inspiring many established businesses to report extortionists.