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NAPLES, Italy — Italy’s state police created an unprecedented anti-mafia task force to investigate Naples’ organized crime ring, called the Camorra, and recent mafia-like killings in Casal di Principe, a Naples suburb and reportedly a stronghold for the ring.

The task force, which augments local police efforts, is specifically aimed at defeating the Camorra, according to the announcement posted Tuesday on Italy’s Department of Public Security Web site.

The team of 30 seasoned investigators and agents, veterans of anti-mafia crime-fighting, will be directed by a commissioner "who knows well the territory," stated the announcement, which was issued following a slaying Sunday that was blamed on the Camorra.

They are "police selected from the best in the profession ... and picked from investigative organizations to give a major contribution to the fight against crime in that area," state police Chief Antonio Manganelli said in a statement.

The base’s housing office manages 268 leases for U.S. military and civilian personnel and their families in the hamlet of Casal, said base spokesman Lt. Paul Macapagal.

Base officials have no plans so far to restrict the housing office from showing units to potential renters in Casal di Principe. That was done in neighboring Lago di Patria in May following a spike in the reported number of home burglaries and car break-ins.

Residents can call base security to report incidents at 081-568-5638 or 5639.

The recent spate of crime in Casal does not greatly concern Jim Dickinson, a resident and civilian employee of Naval Support Activity Naples. But he won’t be "riding my motorcycle through town with a full-face helmet for a period of time," he said.

Full-face helmets reportedly conceal would-be killers’ identities, and have become associated with those linked to the mob.

Dickinson said mob crimes aren’t random acts of violence, and the killings don’t target Americans.

"I still go to the coffee bars and do my stuff out there, and I don’t see the locals changing their habits either," Dickinson said.

Nor does he worry that some of the killings happen in public, where innocent bystanders could be witnesses to the violence. He does caution his teenage sons, however, to be alert, to always have a buddy when going out and steer clear of crowds, advice he says he’d give no matter where they live.

On Sunday, an Italian businessman and former-criminal-turned-police-informant was gunned down in broad daylight in a central piazza in Casal – a killing that Italian officials said was intended to send a strong message to those who might dare cross the Camorra.

His was the fourth mob-related killing in a month, according to media reports.

Sunday’s victim, Michele Orsi, reportedly ran a waste disposal business and once had ties to the Camorra. He spent time in jail on fraud charges and had planned to testify against clan members on extortion and racketeering charges, and link the Camorra to Naples’ trash crisis.

The Camorra reportedly controls many of the Campania region’s landfills, and holds hauling contracts for the disposal of rubbish. It reportedly turns trash into a lucrative business, bringing in industrial waste from northern Italy and other European nations, avoiding paying hauling fees and circumventing environmental dumping restrictions.

In mid-December, the trash situation reached a crisis, burying the city and its suburbs under tons of uncollected garbage because landfills reportedly were full.

In 2007, Italian law enforcement conducted 19 Camorra-related operations throughout Italy, netting 444 arrests, according to annual statistics posted on the Web site www.poliziadistato.it/pds/index.html.


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