Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BOSS OF BOSSES CAUGHT AFTER 20 YEARS ON THE LAMB


Pasquale Condello is led away by Italian police. Photograph: Antonio Taccone

A mafia crime boss has been captured in southern Italy after 20 years on the run, police said today.

Pasquale Condello, a syndicate head known to associates as "the supreme one", was arrested in the centre of the regional capital Reggio Calabria.

The 57-year-old was "one of the last bosses still on the loose", the Italian news agency ANSA quoted a prosecutor, Francesco Mollace, as saying.

Condello is accused of running an extortion network and is regarded as a key figure in trafficking cocaine between Columbia and Europe.

"It is the latest, extraordinary operation against organised crime," the interior minister, Giuliano Amato, said in a statement. "Pasquale Condello was the number one boss of the ndrangheta."

The ndrangheta [honoured society] is the Calabrian equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia and one of the most ruthless syndicates in Italy.

Organised crime agencies estimate the clan brings in around £25bn annually, about 3.5% of Italy's GDP.

The syndicate hit the headlines in August when it shot dead six people outside a restaurant in the German city of Duisburg.

Amato said investigators considered Condello the "Provenzano of Calabria", referring to the notorious mafia figure Bernardo Provenzano. The reputed "boss of bosses" of Sicily's Cosa Nostra was arrested in 2006 after some 40 years as a fugitive.

A prosecutor, Alberto Cisterna, told Sky TG24 television the Condello crime clan was one of the most "ferocious" of the ndrangheta.

Condello had been given several life prison terms for crimes including the killing of a former head of the Italian state railways in 1987.
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