Mafia bosses in Naples have warned paramedics not to use their sirens when attending emergency calls in the city, because they are disturbing local drug dealers.
Crooks from the Camorra, the main organised crime syndicate in Italy’s third-largest city, have issued the warning because the ambulances’ sirens and flashing lights can be mistaken for police cars, scaring dealers' customers away.
On Saturday, January 30, an ambulance travelling to an emergency in the city’s Spanish quarter was stopped by two men on a large motorbike, who hammered on the window with their fists and told them to switch the siren off.
"Haven’t you understood you cannot use your siren here? Turn it off or we’ll shoot you," one of the gangsters told the ambulance driver.
The paramedics later called the police to escort the ambulance out of the neighbourhood safely.
Manuel Ruggiero, 42, an emergency doctor and local head of medical workers’ protection group Nessuno Tocchi Ippocrate told The Times: "We have already been ordered not to use sirens in other neighbourhoods, including Sanità and Traiano, where the locally based ambulance turns on its siren only after it leaves the area."
He added that ambulance crews have also been attacked if they failed to save the lives of criminals wounded in the city’s turf wars.
"The same ambulance involved in the incident on Saturday was kicked, and the crew pushed when they were not in time to save a cardiac arrest patient," he said.
Ruggiero added: "We have had 300 incidents of aggression like this in the past three years and it happens because there are only 17 ambulances in Naples for one million people."
Italian MP Alessandro Amitrano, from the populist Five Star party, has called for police escorts for ambulance drivers to protect them from criminals that consider themselves above the law.
He said: "This shows why the fight against the Camorra must be considered a national priority."
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Camorra gangsters have also commandeered ambulances to take their wounded comrades to hospital.
In 2015, criminals in Naples stopped an ambulance that was transporting an emergency case, threw the patient out onto the street and then used the ambulance to take an injured Camorra chieftain to hospital.
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