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NAPLES, Italy – Prime Minister Romano Prodi made an emergency visit to Naples on Thursday to plan strategy to confront a rash of murders that has sparked calls for the army to be dispatched to restore order to the southern city.
Just hours before he arrived, a man with a criminal record was stabbed outside a church in the centre only a dozen blocks away from where he was meeting police and politicians to discuss measures to curb the violence.
A poor city that is home to the Camorra, the local version of the Mafia, Naples is no stranger to crime.
But a spate of at least seven murders in less than a week – three on Tuesday alone – is unusual even for a city accustomed to petty crime and thievery.
The Camorra was at its height in the 19th century, when the Bourbon monarchy in Naples used its members in the police, army, and civil service. Once Naples became a part of a united Italy in 1861, the Camorra was suppressed and many of its members fled to the United States where they joined the Italian-American Mafia. The Camorra was supplanted after Benito Mussolini's takeover in 1922.
Compared to its counterparts elsewhere in Italy, Sacra corona unita in Puglia and 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, it was more involved in piracy. Also, compared to the Sicilian Mafia's pyramidal structure, the Camorra is made up of many clans that often fight each other. Drive-by shootings by camorristi often result in casualties among the local populations, but such episodes are often difficult to investigate because of widespread Omertà (code of silence).
Raffaele Cutolo made an attempt to unify the Camorra families in the manner of the Sicilian Mafia, by forming the New Organized Camorra (Nuova Camorra Organizzata or NCO), but this proved unsuccessful.
The Camorra is said by some authoritative sources to have originated with the Garduna, a late-Middle-Ages criminal society based in Seville, Spain, which was transported to Naples when Spain took control of the region.
Scotland has had its brush with the Camorra, Antonio La Torres of Aberdeen, Scotland was a "Don" of the Camorra. He was convicted in Scotland awaiting extradition to Italy
The Camorra existed in USA between the mid- 1800s and early 1900s. They rivaled the Morello crime family for power in New York. Their presence today in the U.S. is not known, but most likely they conduct business with the American Cosa Nostra.
Police arrest 32 in Naples but violence continues
NAPLES (Reuters) - Italian police arrested 32 people in Naples on Wednesday in the first major swoop since the government announced measures to try to stop a crime wave in the southern city which is home to a branch of the Mafia.
Police launched a night-time raid in the neighbourhood of Fuorigrotta and arrested 20 people from two Mafia clans suspected of a series of illicit activities including extortion and drug dealing.
Italian police 'bust drug cartel'
Police in Italy say they have broken a major drug-trafficking ring - their second operation in two days.
Fifty people were arrested in co-ordinated raids in several cities in central Italy, police say.
Those detained are suspected of smuggling coc aine and heroin from Africa to several European countries.
Italian police have launched a hunt for seven bars of enriched uranium believed to be in the hands of the mafia and which they fear could have been sold to Islamist terrorists.
The bars of enriched uranium 235 and 238 were part of a stock of eight kilos of uranium sold to the government of Zaire by an American company, General Atomic of San Diego, in 1971, La Repubblica reported.