Italian authorities say they have smashed a Mafia-run plastic recycling ring that sent toxic material from the southern island of Sicily to China.
The scam was uncovered during a four-year investigation, after shoes made in China with the contaminated plastic were found on sale in Italy.
Police say 15 people were held on a range of offences, including extortion and waste trafficking.
Among them was alleged ringleader Claudio Carbonaro.
He had been a police witness at one stage, but in 2013 returned to Sicily and took over a feared Mafia syndicate.
He then entered the highly lucrative trade in toxic plastics.
Claudio Carbonaro was “responsible for atrocious crimes in the 1980-90s, including over 60 murders”, Italian police told news agency AFP.
Thursday’s arrests were made in and around the Sicilian city of Ragusa.