Italian troops manned checkpoints and checked vehicles as they deployed Saturday in a crime-ridden, mob-plagued southern area of the country where six Africans were gunned down last month.
The 500 soldiers deployed in and around Caserta, a small town near Naples. The Camorra organized crime syndicate is based in the area.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said this week that the troops would do anything "necessary to make the voice of the state heard." He has called the fight between the Camorra and the state a "civil war."
RAI state TV showed soldiers in combat gear checking cars, patrolling streets and setting up checkpoints.
The Sept. 18 gangland-style shooting of the Africans sparked rioting in an area already rife with lawlessness and violence. Police believe the Camorra orchestrated the slayings to punish the Africans for getting involved in drug trafficking, one of its lucrative activities.
As the troops deployed, thousands of immigrants and other people marched through the streets of Caserta to defend the immigrants' rights and demand that they be protected from racists and mobsters alike. A huge banner at the demonstration said: "United against the Camorra and racism."
A similar demonstration took place in Rome, drawing thousands of people.
Weeks ago, Italy sent about 3,000 soldiers to major cities and tourist-sensitive sites to increase up security.