Spanish police arrest another top Italian mafia figure

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The latest Italian mafia leader to be arrested was once a security guard for an Italian government minister, say Spanish police.

MADRID – Police in Spain said Monday they had detained a leader of the Italian mafia who was once a security guard for an Italian government minister, in the latest in a string of arrests of top mafia figures.

The man, identified as 48-year-old Giususeppe U, is wanted in Italy for drug trafficking and is suspected of involvement in a 1997 murder in Rome, police said in a statement. He was arrested in the southern port of Marbella.

"The fugitive, an ex-state policeman in Italy and a former bodyguard to an Italian minister, is considered to be one of the main leaders of a Calabrese mafia organisation by the authorities in his country," the statement said.

Police suspect he ran an international drugs trafficking operation from Morocco where he lived and where he is thought to have held meetings with other members of the mafia clan, the statement added.

Since 2006 more than a dozen leaders of the Camorra and other Italian mafia groups have been arrested in Spain, the main entryway into Europe for cocaine from Latin America and hashish from North Africa.

In January Spanish police arrested two Camorra bosses, Antonio Caiazzo, 50, and Francesco Simeoli, 40, as they left a restaurant at an upscale Madrid neighbourhood.

The arrests have highlighted the growing menace posed by the Italian mafia in Spain.

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, the author of "Gomorra," a best-selling expose of the criminal underworld in Naples, has said several mafia clans have transferred what he termed "their most risky activities," such as drug-running, to Spain, particularly to Barcelona.

Speaking in Barcelona earlier this month, he said Camorra bosses refer to the Spain's Mediterranean coast as "Costa Nostra" or "our coast", alluding to the Sicilian mafia's "Cosa Nostra".

AFP / Expatica

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