ROME (AP) _ Authorities today said they smashed the leading mob clan in the Taranto area in southern Italy, and reported the arrest of a key member of the powerful Corleone faction of the Sicilian Mafia.

Police acted on 48 arrest warrants, 20 of which were for people already in jail. The charges included murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking and extortion, the news agency AGI said.

The clan had risen to the top of the heap in the area around Taranto, after police raids and mob warfare weakened other gangs, AGI said.

Among those arrested was the reputed boss, Antonio Appeso, 59, his wife and five grown children. Appeso was charged with murder, attempted murder, criminal association and drug trafficking.

In Mazara del Vallo, on Sicily's east coast, authorities arrested Andrea Gangitano, 38, AGI said. He was accused of Mafia association and involvement in the 1982 murder of two reputed Mafia figures.

AGI said Gangitano allegedly handled relations with Neapolitan organized crime, the Camorra, regarding heroin trafficking.

The Mafia faction named after the town of Corleone is one of the most powerful crime groups in Sicily.

Elsewhere in Sicily, police arrested seven people in Caltanissetta province in the middle of the island, a follow-up to roundups in the fall and spring of scores of suspected Mafiosi.

The arrests are the latest in a government crackdown on organized crime that followed the murder last year of two prominent anti-Mafia judges.