An Italian mobster described as Europe’s most-wanted drugs trafficker has been caught by police in Colombia.
Roberto Pannunzi, the crime lord alleged to be at the head to of Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia in Calabria, was detained in a shopping mall in the capital, Bogata.
“Pannunzi, known as the Pablo Escobar of Italy, was the most wanted man in the country,” the defence ministry tweeted.
“When he was captured, Pannunzi identified himself with a fake Venezuelan identification card bearing the name Silvano Martino,” the ministry said, according to the BBC.
The international drug lord is said to have imported two tons of cocaine every month, trafficking shipments from Colombia to Europe. His gargantuan purchases reached up to 3.5 tons at a time.
The 67-year-old has fled arrest twice in Italy, including a dramatic escape from a hospital in Rome three years ago when he was being treated for heart disease. He is still to serve a 12-year-sentence.
Italian prosecutor Nicola Gratteri said Colombia was expelling the crime boss, and he is expected to arrive in Rome tonight.
Roberto Saviano, an investigative journalist who released a book on the global trade in cocaine this year, told the AFP that Pannunzi was a “broker”, rather than a killer or Mafioso.
“His arrest could change the history of drug trafficking in Italy and internationally,” he said.
“He was a sort of Copernicus of cocaine. He changed the way the business works, he understood the new dynamics of the cocaine market.
“He collected money from the various families, often rival families, and bought cocaine in Colombia. He could manage fleets of ships to bring it to Europe.”