Marcello Pesce, 52, a leading member of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia based in the southern Calabria region, has been on the run since 2010.
He was arrested while hiding in his own house in Rosarno, a small city in the province of Reggio Calabria, in the early hours of Thursday, according to investigators.
Pesce must serve a 16 years and two months sentence for mafia association and fraudulent asset ownership, which was upheld by an appeal court in 2015.
The man is a boss of one of the most powerful ‘Ndrangheta clans, the Pesces, whose top ranks were almost wiped out in a major operation called “All Inside” in 2010 by the local Anti-Mafia District Directorate (DDA).
Marcello Pesce escaped during the 2010 operation and went on the run. His name appeared in the Italian Interior Ministry’s list as one of the most dangerous fugitives.
In 2015, the Appeal Court in Reggio Calabria had issued a European arrest warrant against him.
“He is a peculiar man, and also quite educated. Books by Proust and Sartre have been found in his hideout,” state broadcaster RAI TV cited prosecutor Gaetano Paci as saying.
“It is not surprising that he was found at his home, since a fugitive boss still remains an executive chief, and in his specific case also a strategic leader, who needs to stay in his territory to maintain control of the situation,” the prosecutor added.
His arrest came at the end of a three-year-long investigation, according to the magistrate.
The Pesce clan is believed to run a major international drug trafficking, among other illegal activities, and to exert its control over the whole Gioia Tauro plain and the related port, which is one of the largest container ports in Europe.
The Gioia Tauro port would play a primary role within the routes of the international drug business, the Italian Supreme Court stated in 2014.
Previous probes have showed the family’s illegal activities also stretch to Milan, Italy’s financial capital, and to the whole Lombardy region.
Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano praised prosecutors and police for the operation.
“This is a good day for Italy,” he said in a statement.”His capture, in Rosarno, results from an intensive effort of the Reggio Calabria policemen, who have worked with skills and determination. It is a high-level investigative success,” Alfano stressed.
The Calabria-based mafia is one of three main Italian crime syndicates along with the Sicilian mob, or Cosa Nostra, and Camorra from Naples.
The ‘Ndrangheta is currently believed to be the richest and most dangerous of the three, according to Italian experts. Enditem