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Over 40 held in police operation targeting youth gangs in Italy

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Forty-one people were arrested in Italy on Friday in a nationwide police operation targeting juvenile criminal gangs, local authorities said.

A further 74 people have been reported to the police investigators.

Four of those held and 24 of those reported were minors, according to the Interior Ministry.

Coordinated by the tactical unit of the country’s national police forces and carried out by 500-odd police officers, the operation involved raids in 14 provinces, where “criminal incidents ascribable to juvenile groups — or so-called baby gangs — have recently occurred,” the ministry said in a statement.

Twelve kilograms of drugs, some 10,000 euros (10,900 U.S. dollars), along with various weapons (handguns, knives and knuckle-dusters) were also seized in the operation.

The people arrested and those under investigation have been variously charged with violence, drug trafficking, robbery and street bullying.

In September, Italy’s government cracked down on so-called baby gangs — a phenomenon Italian society perceives as being on the rise — tightening jail terms for minor offenders, and making easier for the police to arrest minors found in possession of weapons.

Among other measures, the cabinet’s decree introduced new rules under which parents of Italian children who drop out of school could also face jail sentences.

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