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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Top Mafia boss arrested in Italy

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Antonio Iovine is suspected to be the Camorra crime syndicate's top fugitive boss (AP)

Police in southern Italy have captured one of Italy’s most-wanted fugitive mobsters, who was considered the financial brains behind the bloodiest of Camorra crime syndicate clans.

Antonio Iovine, 46, nicknamed “‘o ninno'” (dialect for “the baby”) for his youthful looks, grinned at crowds outside Naples police headquarters as he was hustled from a squad car into the building.

A convicted boss of the Casalesi crime family, Iovine had been on the run for 14 years. He was arrested with virtually no resistance after being found hiding in a crawl space in an apartment in Casal di Principe, a town near Caserta which is the Casalesi stronghold, police said.

Prosecutors told reporters at a news conference in Naples that bugged telephone lines helped narrow the search for Iovine. “He never left his territory. A real boss never leaves his territory,” Naples police chief Santi Giuffre said.

In an idea of the Casalesi’s clout on Italy’s organised crime scene, police have seized about two billion euros (£1.7 billion) worth of assets allegedly illegally gained by its members over the last few years.

Investigators contend that the Casalesi family runs a lucrative illegal business in transporting and disposing of tons of toxic waste, a murky world explored in the book and film Gomorrah.

Other moneymakers for the crime clan are numbers rackets, extortion, drug trafficking, smuggling of illegal migrants and arms. Prosecutors have also alleged the clan has infiltrated a produce wholesale complex between Naples and Rome that is one of Europe’s biggest fruit and vegetable markets, as well as numerous cement companies.

Iovine was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for murder and criminal association.

A crackdown on the Casalesi branch of the Camorra led to the capture of several other top bosses in the last few years, but one still remains at large – Michele Zagaria, who, along with Iovine, was reputedly the top lieutenant of charismatic convicted Camorra boss Francesco Schiavone.

Nicknamed Sandokan after the hero of a series of pirate adventure books in Italy, Schiavone is believed to still control the Casalesi clan from behind bars.

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