Gladiator Thugs Busted at Colosseum

Cop centurions sent in as Rome cracks down on racketeers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2011 2:42 AM CDT
Gladiator Thugs Busted at Colosseum
A man wearing a Roman centurion costume walks in front of the Colosseum.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Gladiators and centurions clashed in front of Rome's Colosseum this week as police attempted to crack down on thugs targeting tourists. Undercover officers dressed as centurions were sent in to investigate the dozens of fake gladiators, centurions, and Roman legionnaires who make their living outside the ancient stadium, posing with tourists for photos, then demanding exorbitant payments, or offering expensive nonexistent tours.

Wooden swords were waved in the air as a group of fake gladiators attacked the police centurions, the Guardian reports. Nearby undercover cops posing as street cleaners joined the fray and nine gladiators were taken away in handcuffs. The fake centurions and gladiators come from seven families who jealously guard their turf outside the Colosseum, driving off rivals with threats and sometimes violence, according to authorities. (More gladiators stories.)

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