Anti-mafia police have seized 50 million in assets and detained more than 160 people in Italy and Germany, accusing them of running a huge, mob-controlled commercial and political empire.

The organisation involved everything from bread and wine sales to funeral services, migrant housing and waste recycling, investigators said.

Prosecutors in southern Italy said the 'ndrangheta's Farao-Marincola clan had its hand in just about every financial enterprise in the Calabrian town of Ciro and nearby areas, and that its grip extended throughout Italy and into Germany to launder its profits.

Specifically, prosecutors accused the bosses of driving out all the bakery competition in Ciro so residents and restaurants were forced to buy their bread from the one mob-controlled bakers.

Italian restaurants in Germany were apparently forced to import wine, olive oil and other goods from a clan-controlled Italian association.

"They controlled all the economic activity in entire towns," prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told a press conference. "It concerned all commercial activity, and obviously political power as well."

Police said "dozens" of public administration officials were among the 169 people arrested.

Italy's 'ndrangheta has increasingly eclipsed the Cosa Nostra in power and wealth, infiltrating all sectors of Italian economic and political life and spreading out from its base in Calabria to Rome, Milan and beyond.

The gang's presence in Germany first made headlines in 2007 when a family feud between Calabrian clans turned a birthday party at a Duisberg pizzeria into a massacre that left six dead.

Prosecutors said in this case, the Farao-Marincola clan managed to exert such control because of its wealth and ability to corrupt politicians and did not need to resort to the violence that long characterised traditional mafia activity.

In Germany, the federal criminal police office said 11 people were arrested in western Germany, accused of blackmail and money-laundering.

The arrests took place in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia.

"The detentions and seizures are an important success against the infiltration of mafia structures and methods in our economy," interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

"We will not allow criminal organisations like the 'ndrangheta to use Germany ... and do their criminal business here."

Italian prosecutors said the local suspects were accused of mafia association, attempted murder, extortion, money-laundering and illegal weapons possession.

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