The Italian cabinet has sacked the entire local government of the southern city of Reggio Calabria to stop it from coming under the direct control of the local mafia.
Mayor Demetrio Arena and all 30 city councillors were sacked on Tuesday, local time, under the provision announced in Rome by Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri.
It was the first time that the government of a provincial capital had been dismissed en masse because of suspected links to organised crime. A number of smaller cities, mostly in the south, have met the same fate in the past.
The action was taken after inspectors from Rome determined that a number of councillors of the city, which has a population of 180,000 people, had ties to the 'Ndrangheta, the local version of the Sicilian mafia.
The 'Ndrangheta crime group has overtaken Sicily's Cosa Nostra as Italy's most feared organised crime group. It makes most of its money from drugs trafficking.
The move, which had been expected for months, means the city will be run by a government-appointed commissioner for 18 months until new elections are held.