Et tu, Spartace? Undercover cops smite rogue Roman gladiators
Gladiator characters are a familiar sight to tourists in Rome.
August 13th, 2011
03:05 PM ET

Et tu, Spartace? Undercover cops smite rogue Roman gladiators

"Strength and honor," the hero Maximus said in the movie "Gladiator." For some of today's Roman gladiators, the motto may be "Strength? Sure. Honor? Not so much."

Italian police disguised as tourists, as street sweepers and even as fellow faux fighters arrested 20 costumed characters who allegedly had been strong-arming tourists and muscling out competitors, The Australian reported. Nine were charged with crimes of violence, according to the report.

The gladiators are familiar to visitors near Rome's prime tourist spots, including the Colosseum, the Forum, Plaza Venezia and the Vatican. The characters typically charge a fee to pose for pictures or give tours.

Some allegedly would offer to take a tourist's photo using the tourist's camera, then demand an exorbitant fee for the camera's return, Third Age reported.

Police said the suspects were members of seven families that worked with five tourist agencies to corner the gladiator market and intimidate competitors at all the best locations, BBC reported.

Undercover police dressed up as gladiators to see if the more thuggish operators would try to put the muscle on them to protect their turf, according to The Australian. They didn't disappoint. When things started to get ugly, the street sweepers dropped their brooms and moved in to cuff the offenders.

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Filed under: Crime • Italy • Travel
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Silver Wraith

    This is so charmingly Italian!
    America could use a little of that style.

    August 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. funky bunch

    I wonder what style costume Americans would wear?

    August 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. funky bunch

    I guess it would depend on what city you are in.

    August 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Silver Wraith

    We're not as visually imaginative as the people that brought you the Mona Lisa and David, but we have some imagination.
    Use yours and you'll see the scene right away.

    August 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. raven

    I had that very scam pulled on me in Mexico years ago . I paid.

    August 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    I would have given them the b!tch slapping of a lifetime.

    August 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. the prophet

    I am Italian fir sure....who are Americans their extinction permanent?

    August 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Silver Wraith


    August 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bullwinkle

    Silly Squirrel!

    Thet were only trying to pay their tuition to Whats-A-matta U.

    August 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mad Hatter


    August 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mad Hatter

    Maybe they'll run into the Jersey Shore gang. LOL

    August 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©


    Good old Italian ingenuity.

    August 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fernace

    I know this is a serious matter, but it's cute & funny too! Go, polizia Italia!

    August 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mad Hatter

    "Gibb slap"

    August 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cesar

    Cops gotta do what they gotta do. Et tu raven y banasy??? Hi girls. Ya'll have a fantastic weekend.

    August 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
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