Roman police officers underwent a covert operation to crack down on Rome’s criminal “gangster gladiators” which ended in kicks, punches, and flying swords on Wednesday.
The operation began on the heels of several recent complaints that have been filed to local police from licensed tour operators about threats and attacks they have been faced by criminal gladiators that respond when licensed tour guides enter into their “turf.”
The operation also emerged because police were continuing to obtain complaints from tourists about centurions and gladiators deploying devious tactics to steal money from the unsuspecting tourists including lying about fake tours, overcharging for photographs, and threatening people.
Locals dress as gladiators and centurions in hopes to cash in on the allure of Rome’s attractions such as the Colosseum, Forum, and Vatican.
However, many that do so do not maintain the correct licenses and permits for the work and take advantage of the tourism market to expel exorbitant amounts of money from tourists and intimidate their market competitors through threats and assaults.
The Guardian said that some tourists claimed that the gladiators charged upwards of $40 to pose for a picture, far beyond the legal limit.
At Wednesday's sting operation police officers disguised themselves as street cleaners, tourists, and even posed as gladiators themselves. They went to the turf of the criminal gladiators and the arrests happened after “real” gladiators approached the undercover gladiators at the Piazza Venezia.
A fight ensued between the undercover gladiators and the unlicensed gladiators and astonished tourists looked on as wooden swords went flying in the air.
Eventually, police arrested men from seven families and five agencies that control the market for tour guides around the Colosseum. The operation resulted in a total of 30 arrests.
According to Corriere della Sera, an Italian newspaper, three of the arrested men could face charges of assault and criminal conspiracy.