Italian Police Raid Mafia Stronghold, Arrest Dozens of Suspected Clansmen

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Italian police arrested scores of suspected mobsters Tuesday, including three top fugitives believed linked to the gangland-style slaying of six African immigrants near Naples, authorities said.

In a series of raids in Naples and surrounding areas, where the Camorra crime syndicate is based, police also seized assets worth $143.5 million and weapons, including two AK-47s believed to have been used Sept. 18 against the Africans, police and government officials said.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni hailed the operation as a serious blow to the Camorra organization.

"We have waged war on the Camorra," Maroni said. "We want to exert pressure like never before and keep this pressure up until the war is won."

The three men — all on Italy's 100 top most wanted list — were arrested in small villas on the coast near Naples, said Gianfrancesco Siazzu, the top commander of the Carabinieri police that ran the operation.

Police searching the hideouts also found pistols, Carabinieri outfits and other disguises, Siazzu said.

Another man suspected in the African slayings was arrested last week.

In a separate operation involving hundreds of officers, police arrested 26 suspects believed to be part of a powerful Camorra clan. Five suspects remained at large, said police in Caserta, a town near Naples that is home to the clan.

The suspects are charged with Mafia association, extortion, illegal possession of weapons and, for some, murder and robbery, police said. Police seized dozens of cars, weapons, documents and books detailing the clan's illegal activities.

Among those arrested was the wife of a jailed top boss, 48-year-old Giuseppina Nappa, who is believed to be the Camorra's paymaster.

Italy is sending 500 more soldiers to the Caserta area this week in response to the shooting of the six Africans, which sparked rioting in an area already rife with lawlessness.

Police believe the Camorra orchestrated the slayings to punish the Africans for drug trafficking.

The troops will patrol streets and man checkpoints in Caserta and other crime-ridden areas.

Weeks ago, Italy sent about 3,000 soldiers to the streets of major cities and tourist-sensitive sites to beef up security.