The entire council of the city of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy has been sacked to stop it from being taken over by the mafia, officials say.
The move came after some councilors were suspected of having ties to the powerful ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate.
Officials said it was the first time that the entire government of a provincial capital had been dismissed over suspected mafia links.
Three commissioners will run the city for 18 months until elections.
Mayor Demetrio Arena and all 30 city councilors were sacked to prevent any “mafia contagion” in the local government, Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri said.
Smaller city administrations have been dissolved in the past for similar reasons.
Calabria is the home of the ‘Ndrangheta, which experts say has become one of the world’s biggest criminal organizations.
Cocaine is thought to be its biggest source of revenue, along with extortion and money laundering.
Italy’s parliamentary anti-mafia commission has described the ‘Ndrangheta as the country’s most dangerous – and richest – mafia.
The network has used the migration of poor Calabrians to northern Italy or abroad to export its influence.