March 4, 2014 / 3:07 PM / in 5 years

Italy issues arrest warrants, seizes assets in Rome mafia crackdown

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for 16 suspected mafia members and seized millions of euros in assets as part of a crackdown on organized crime clans in Rome.

Police seized about 6 million euros ($8.26 million) in assets from the so-called Fasciani clan suspected of controlling criminal activity in Rome’s seaside neighborhood of Ostia.

Among the assets the court took over were a beach restaurant, bar and luxury car dealership controlled by front men for the clan, investigators said.

The assets were acquired with money earned mainly through extortion and international drug trafficking, Renato Cortese, the head of Rome’s mobile police squad, told reporters.

While Italy’s traditional crime groups - Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta and the Naples Camorra - are all rooted in the deep south, a series of recent investigations has underlined their growing influence in the capital.

In January, police arrested 90 people for their roles in investing criminal proceeds in 27 coffee bars and pizzerias in Rome, including “Pizza Ciro”, one of the city’s most popular chains.

“There are many groups operating in Rome,” said anti-mafia prosecutor Michele Prestipino. “They do the same things that Cosa Nostra and the ‘Ndrangheta do in their home territories, and this investigation is a measuring stick for the quality and extent of the mob presence in Rome.”

In the first two months of the year, police have seized 350 million euros in assets from suspected mob networks, compared with 560 million euros in all of 2013, General Ivano Maccani of the finance police said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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