Politicians from the Calabria region running for office in regional elections held in March allegedly visited the apartment of crime boss Peppe Pelle offering favourable treatment for mafia inmates and public works contracts if the mafioso could deliver votes. They didn't realize that anti-mafia investigators overheard their conversation via listening devices planted in the mobster's home.
Of the five politicians arrested, Santi Zappala, a member of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative People of Liberty Party and part of the Calabria Regional Council, was the only one to win office in the elections.
Police also arrested members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia syndicate, businessmen, go-betweens and election officials.
The 'Ndrangheta from Calabria is considered Italy's richest and most powerful mafia organisation, which includes the better known Cosa Nostra from Sicily.