Goods valued at 30 million euros seized in Mafia probe

Contractors believed linked to fugitive boss in Sicily

Goods valued at 30 million euros seized in Mafia probe

Trapani, April 9 - Authorities on Tuesday said they seized six companies with property valued at about 30 million euros from two men allegedly linked to a fugitive Mafia boss. The companies, controlled by entrepreneurs Francesco Morici and his son Vincenzo Morici, are believed linked to fugitive Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the world's 10 most wanted men. Authorities, including the tax police, seized 142 properties as well as 36 bank accounts and numerous equity market investments held by the Morici family in cities across Italy. The companies are allegedly linked to rigged bids that gave them construction contracts between 2001 and 2005 at the port of Trapani in western Sicily, to boost tourism. That included preparations for the Louis Vuitton Cup, a yachting competition connected with the prestigious America's Cup event. The latest seizures come as Italian police have been tightening the net around Messina Denaro in recent weeks, seizing assets connected with the fugitive reputed head of the Sicilian Mafia. A wave of arrests over recent years have also brought police closer to the fugitive 50-year-old Agrigento-based boss Denaro, who took control of Cosa Nostra after the 2006 arrest of Bernardo Provenzano. Messina Denaro built up his power base in his native Trapani before beating Palermo chieftains to become mob kingpin after "boss of bosses" Provenzano was caught in April 2006. But police have launched a major counter-offensive, implementing a 'scorched earth' campaign to try and flush Messina Denaro out, arresting scores of his underlings and seizing million of euros in assets.

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