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Italy makes record mafia seizure

A policeman inspects a Ferrari seized during a crackdown on the Camorra mafia on 30/9/2008 in Caserta, southern Italy
Police will be driving seized mafia cars to send a message to gangs

The Italian government says it has seized assets from the mafia worth more than 4bn euros ($5.5bn; 3.7bn) this year - three times more than in 2007.

In his annual report, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the state had also made around 2,000 arrests.

He said a number of vehicles, including a Ferrari, had been taken from gangs and were now being used by the police.

"We have succeeded in separating the fate of mafiosi from that of their property," Mr Maroni said.

He told an end-of-year news conference that the authorities would continue to "hit mafia money" next year.

Mr Maroni said the luxury vehicles - including a yellow Ferrari 512 and a black Porsche Cayenne - were now part of the national police carpool and would be driven around those neighbourhoods were the gangs ruled.

He said the tactic was meant to "drive home the fact that the climate has changed."

Setbacks

Italy has had a mixed year in terms of controlling the mafia, the BBC's Duncan Kennedy reports from Rome.

Whilst Mr Maroni says there have been more than 2,000 arrests, including around 100 in one operation last week in Sicily, there have been setbacks too.

One recent report said the combined annual profits of all the mafia organisations amounted to $87bn (58bn).

And the violence associated with them has not stopped, either, with six men dying in one incident alone in Naples earlier this year.

Interest in the mafia has been rekindled with the release of the film, Gomorrah, which has won multiple prizes at various film festivals and is Italy's entry for the Oscars, our correspondent says.

It depicts a ruthless, adaptable organisation, that is mostly a work of fiction but which closely mirrors the country's reality, he adds.

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