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An Italian building inspector at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, was among those arrested Tuesday by Italian anti-Mafia police on suspicion of using threats to win on-base building contracts.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the man was arrested by officers from the Catania-based Direzione Investigativa Anti-Mafia unit along with six others at their homes in eastern Sicily and near Naples.

The arrests were made after a three-year DIA investigation into the awarding of contracts for several on-base building projects.

Sigonella spokesman Alberto Lunetta said the base Naval Criminal Investigative Service personnel assisted the DIA investigators by providing “information, translating and producing copies of documents.”

The inspector worked for the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction detachment at Sigonella. Lunetta would provide no further details on either the arrested man or the projects from which the arrests stemmed.

This isn’t the first time that there has been suspected Mafia involvement in Sigonella-base projects.

In 1997, 20 people from three companies were arrested by Italian police after a four-year investigation on charges of intimidating other contractors bidding for work at Sigonella. The charges stated that this gave the Mafia virtually every on-base construction contract.

In 1998, U.S. federal court documents show that those same companies merged to form a group that bid, and won, a five-year janitorial contract.

According to a 2002 U.S. Court of Appeals decision concerning a challenge to the awarding of this contract, at least part of the group was controlled by Mafia leader Carmelo La Mastra.

The document also states that an Italian court had found that La Mastra “had engaged in bid rigging and was involved in a Mafia organization in connection with previous contracts at the Sigonella base, apparently in the early 1990s.”


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