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Italy arrests scores of suspected mobsters

Italian police made sweeping arrests against the mob, targeting a powerful clan as well as three suspects linked to a recent gangland-style slaying of six African immigrants near Naples.
Image:Giuseppina Nappa wife of Francesco \" Sandokan\" Schiavone
Giuseppina Nappa, wife of Francesco "Sandokan" Schiavone, the boss of the Camorra' s clan Casalesi, covers her face while being escorted by Italian policemen on Tuesday.Nunzio Mari / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Italian police made sweeping arrests against the mob Tuesday, targeting a powerful clan as well as three suspects linked to a recent 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.

'Exert pressure'
"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 over 1,000 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.

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

Police also seized dozens of cars, weapons, documents and books detailing the clan's illegal activities, shut down dozens of companies and put more than 100 buildings under seal.

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 getting involved in drug trafficking, one of the Camorra's lucrative activities.

The troops will patrol streets and man checkpoints in Caserta and other crime-ridden areas. Maroni said the troops will start deploying in coming days.

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