Mafia kingpin ar­rested in bed with girl­friend af­ter 20-year hunt

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By John Phillips in Rome

A TWO-DECADE long man­hunt for one of Italy’s most wanted mafia bosses ended with­out a shot be­ing fired yes­ter­day when com­man­dos swooped on ’Ndrangheta kingpin Ernesto Faz­zalari as he slept next to his girl­friend in a re­mote cot­tage in the Cal­abrian moun­tains. The ar­rest of the 46-year-old fugi­tive

capo, Italy’s sec­ond most wanted man – af­ter Si­cil­ian Mafia boss Mat­teo Messina De­naro – was hailed as a his­toric break­through in the coun­try’s bat­tle against or­gan­ised crime. “This shows that you can­not run from jus­tice,” said An­gelino Al­fano, the in­te­rior min­is­ter. “These are the kind of vic­to­ries that en­cour­age and sup­port us in the dif­fi­cult but winnable fight against or­gan­ised crime.”

The Cal­abrian mob­ster of­fered no re­sis­tance dur­ing the raid, which fol­lowed years of in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the re­gion’s spe­cial anti-Mafia unit with the help of for­mer gang­sters who turned state’s ev­i­dence, po­lice sources said.

Of­fi­cers from the para­mil­i­tary po­lice said they found a pis­tol and am­mu­ni­tion in the build­ing but Faz­zalari had no time to use it. The gang­ster’s 41-yearold girl­friend was also ar­rested, on charges of help­ing a fugi­tive evade his sen­tence and com­plic­ity in il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a firearm.

Cara­binieri com­man­dos pounced on Faz­zalari while he was asleep with his girl­friend at a cot­tage in a re­mote ham­let near his crime-in­fested home town of Tau­ri­anova in the rugged Aspromonte moun­tains.

The Cal­abrian mob­ster had been on the run since 1996 and had been sen­tenced in ab­sen­tia to life im­pris­on­ment for crimes in­clud­ing be­long­ing to a Mafia as­so­ci­a­tion, mur­der, drug traf­fick­ing and il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of weapons.

Fed­erico Cafiero De Raho, Cal­abria’s chief anti-mafia pros­e­cu­tor, said it was hugely sig­nif­i­cant that Faz­zalari had been cap­tured deep in the ’Ndrangheta heart­land.

“Tau­ri­anova is a place where the clans con­trol ev­ery clod of earth,” he said. “He felt safe. That is why he was found with only his girl­friend and no body­guard. He thought he was pro­tected on his own turf, that he would be warned if he was in danger.

“But no alarm came. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ceeded with­out him hear­ing a whis­per. In the past peo­ple were afraid to talk but now I think the sit­u­a­tion has changed. We have ac­coun­tants and busi­ness peo­ple pre­pared to give ev­i­dence be­cause they know there are judges and po­lice who are on their side.”

Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi heaped praise on the forces of law and or­der for the ar­rest. “I am proud of the men and women who serve the state,” he said in a tweet. “Long live Italy!”

Faz­zalari went on the run 20 years ago to avoid ar­rest for his in­volve­ment in a bloody feud in Tau­ri­anova be­tween ri­val clans in the ’Ndrangheta mafia.

Se­cre­tive and vi­cious, the ’Ndrangheta has sur­passed the in­fa­mous Cosa Nos­tra in power thanks to its wealth as the prin­ci­pal im­porter of co­caine into Europe.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is made up of nu­mer­ous clans based in Cal­abria, the un­der-de­vel­oped “toe” of Italy’s boot.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.