Italian police have arrested the leader of the Calabrian mafia, which has parlayed drug trafficking to become more powerful than the more famous Sicilian mob. Clan feuds of the powerful 'Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate have bloodied the southern Italian region for years. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.
Pasquale Condello had been on the run for more than 20 years. Known as 'the supremo," the 57-year-old was the top boss of the powerful 'Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate. He has been sentenced to life in prison four times.
Italian police arrested him in an apartment in the center of the regional capital, Reggio, Calabria. He was armed but offered no resistance.
Interior Minister Giuliano Amato calls the arrest "the latest, extraordinary operation against organized crime." Police called Condello "the Provenzano of Calabria," comparing him to the boss of bosses of the Sicilian mafia, Bernardo Provenzano, who was arrested in April 2006.
General Giampaolo Ganzer is head of the Special Operations Unit of the Carabinieri, responsible for his arrest. He says Condello headed a ruthless criminal organization that also had a powerful military capability.
Ganzer says Condello's leadership was recognized by all the clans in the Reggio Calabria area, now grouped under a cartel that answered to his authority. All the business of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta was decided by Condello or had his backing.
Italian investigators believe the 'Ndrangheta controls cocaine trafficking in many parts of Europe. The organized crime syndicate made headlines in Europe, last year, when six young Italians were gunned down after eating in a pizzeria in the German city, Duisburg.