NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Members of the Sicilian Mafia sought in the assassination of Italian crime fighters may be hiding in New Jersey, the FBI said Monday.

Several of Italy's most prominent anti-Mafia fighters have been killed in recent weeks. Italian law enforcement officials have come to the United States looking for technical assistance - and for the killers.

''If they fled Sicily because of the heat, this is a likely place to come,'' said FBI spokesman Bill Tonkin.

Tommaso Scalici, 35, a reputed member of the Sicilian Mafia wanted on heroin trafficking charges, was arrested in New Jersey in November, he said.

Italian law enforcement officials accompanied the FBI when they arrested Scalici as he hid under a bed in his sister's home in Rockaway Township. He has since been extradited to Italy.

The Italian government has deployed about 7,000 soldiers in Sicily to hunt for fugitive Mafiosi and guard other investigators following the string of assassinations.

On July 19, Judge Paolo Borsellino, the country's leading anti-Mafia magistrate, was killed with five of his police guards in a bomb attack outside his mother's house in Palermo.

Borsellino had inherited the mantle of another anti-Mafia hero, Judge Giovanni Falcone, who was killed along with his wife and three police escorts in a bombing outside Palermo on May 23.