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Italian mobster Francesco Pelle arrested at Portuguese COVID clinic after two years on the run


An Italian mobster has been arrested at a Portuguese COVID clinic after two years on the run.

Francesco Pelle had been convicted of ordering the revenge killing of another mobster’s wife, Maria Strangio, at her home in Calabria on Christmas Day 2006.

But he vanished from Milan in 2019 just before Italy’s Supreme Court upheld his conviction and life sentence.

Italian interior minister Luciana Lamorgese described Pelle as one of Italy’s most dangerous fugitives, adding that paramilitary police and anti-Mafia prosecutors had been on his trail.

According to Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pelle was arrested in a Lisbon hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19.

The 43-year-old had been a noted figure in one of the ‘ndrangheta’s most notorious organised crime clans.

The murder of Ms Strangio had been part of a long feud between the Pelle-Vottari clan and the rival Nirta-Strangio gang.

Pelle had been shot in the back a few days earlier and the woman’s killing was believed to have been ordered in retaliation.

But the feud did not end there: in revenge for her murder, seven suspected members or associates of the Pelle-Vottari clan were shot outside an Italian restaurant in the German city of Duisburg in 2007.

Pic: AP
Image:
The 2007 shootings in Duisburg were part of the feud between the Pelle-Vottari and Nirta-Strangio clans Pic: AP

The ‘ndrangheta is headquartered in Calabria, southern Italy, one of the country’s poorest regions.

It is believed to be the world’s richest crime syndicate, fuelled mainly by cocaine trafficking.

The group is believed to have a stranglehold on imports of the drug into Europe, which is estimated to bring in tens of billions of pounds every year.

One of the group’s families is the focus of a massive trial that began in Italy in January.

Luigi Mancuso has already spent nearly two decades in prison and is said to have led one of the ‘ndrangheta’s key families, based in the small town of Vibo Valentia.

Some 350 defendants, about 700 lawyers and close to 1,000 witnesses will give evidence and the trial could last as long as two years.



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