A senior Ma’aleh Adumim municipality official was among 15 people arrested on Monday on suspicion of involvement in a widespread corruption and blackmail case.

Police announced the arrests after a months-long secret investigation, saying the suspects had extorted building contractors and developers, and prevented them from carrying out jobs without their permission. They also allegedly forced the contractors to pay ransom or protection fees in order to carry out other projects.

Authorities believe the suspects used their relations with the local authority to threaten the contractors and developers.

In addition to the main suspects, another 60 individuals — some of whom hold high positions in the public sphere, including an employee of the Tax Authority — are believed to have been involved. Authorities believe the corruption ring also received support from a senior municipality figure and his assistant.

Police launched the investigation after receiving several complaints of extortion.

Authorities believe more arrests will follow.

Ma’aleh Adumim is an Israeli settlement-city in the West Bank, not far from Jerusalem.