National police, carabinieri and finance police patrolled the streets and searched buildings in Ostia, on the southern outskirts of the capital, in a hunt for weapons and drugs.
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Authorities have been on high alert since the weekend, when attacks were reported near two properties belonging to members of the Spada organized crime family.
They fear they could be the first strikes in a war between the Spadas and the area’s other dominant clan, the Fascianis.
On Saturday, five gunshots were fired at the door of Silvano Spada, cousin of the clan’s boss Carmine. The door to Silvano’s brother’s house was also kicked and punched.
A few days earlier, two people were kneecapped in an Ostia pizzeria in what could be a related attack.
Rome anti-mafia prosecutors, who have opened an investigation, suspect that a truce between the rival clans may have broken down, leading to a battle for control of the various drug, gambling, prostitution and social housing rackets known to operate in Ostia.
The timing could be linked to the arrest of Roberto Spada, Carmine Spada’s brother, who remains in detention after assaulting a journalist earlier this month. His rivals may be taking advantage of his absence to strike at the clan.
The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, suggested that the army could be called upon to keep order, though Italy’s chief of police, Franco Gabrielli, ruled that out.
“The police must be the ones primarily providing answers,” Gabrielli said on Monday. “In the coming days we will move from words to action. The country must see that even in Ostia there are no lawless zones.”
The operation comes weeks after Ostia elected its first council since its local authorities were dissolved for mafia infiltration two years ago.
The council, led by Giuliana Di Pillo of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, will hold its first meeting in December, a session set to be dominated by the mafia issue. Interior Minister Marco Minniti has been invited to attend, along with law enforcement representatives and Mayor Raggi.
The beach in Ostia. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP