A Italian fugitive who was convicted in his homeland of ordering the revenge killing of a mobster’s wife has been arrested in Portugal in a clinic where he was reportedly being treated for Covid-19.
Italian interior minister Luciana Lamorgese said in a statement that Francesco Pelle was one of Italy’s most dangerous fugitives.
She gave no further details except to say that Italian paramilitary police and anti-Mafia prosecutors had been on his trail.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera said Pelle was arrested in a Lisbon hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19.
Pelle, 43, was a noted figure in one of the Calabria-based ’ndrangheta’s most notorious organised crime clans.
Corriere della Sera said he vanished from Milan in 2019 just before Italy’s top criminal court upheld his conviction for ordering the murder of Maria Strangio at her home in Calabria on Christmas Day 2006.
The murder was part of a long history of bloodshed in a power feud between the Pelle-Vottari clan and the rival Nirta-Strangio gang in the ‘ndrangheta stronghold town of San Luca.
Pelle had been wounded in the feud a few days earlier, shot in the back, and the killing of Ms Strangio was believed to have been ordered in retaliation.
In revenge for her murder, seven suspected members or associates of the Pelle-Vottari clan were gunned down outside an Italian restaurant in Duisberg, Germany, in 2007.
The sensational attack in Germany made plain to authorities in Europe what Italian investigators had been saying for years: that the ‘ndrangheta, awash in cocaine money, had extended its reach throughout much of the continent as it gobbled up businesses to help launder billions in drug profits.
Ms Lamorgese praised international police co-operation behind Monday’s arrest.