Colombia deports Calabrian mafia boss Pannunzi to Italy

Roberto Pannunzi arriving in Rome Pannunzi is expected to serve out more than 16 years of his sentence in Italy

Related Stories

Italian police have arrested mafia boss Roberto Pannunzi after he was deported back to Italy from Colombia.

He was detained in a shopping centre in Bogota on Friday in an joint operation carried out by the Colombian authorities and US anti-drug officials.

Pannunzi is alleged to be responsible for importing up to two tonnes of cocaine into Europe every month.

He is the alleged leader of the 'Ndrangheta crime network based in the southern Italian region of Calabria.

The Italian was detained on Friday with the help of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Colombian defence ministry said in a statement.

"When he was captured, Pannunzi identified himself with a fake Venezuelan identification card bearing the name Silvano Martino," Colombia's defence ministry said in a Twitter post.

Less than 24 hours later, he was put on a plane from Bogota.

Pannunzi was arrested by Italian police upon his arrival at Rome's Fiumicino airport on Saturday evening.

'Not a mafioso'

Roberto Pannunzi, 65, is said to have organised huge shipments of cocaine from South America to Europe.

He collected the money from different criminal organisations and smuggled large scale, profitable drug smuggling operations.

"He is not a mafioso, not a killer, he is a broker," Roberto Saviano, an Italian investigative journalist told the AFP news agency.

Roberto Pannunzi, 65, was first detained in Colombia in 1994 and extradited to Italy but was released when his detention order expired.

He was re-arrested in 2004 and later convicted. But he staged an dramatic escape from a private hospital in Rome in 2010, where he was being treated for heart disease.

Italian authorities have described the 'Ndrangheta as the country's most dangerous and wealthiest crime syndicate, overtaking the Sicilian Mafia.

"He is the biggest cocaine importer in the world," said Nicola Gratteri, deputy chief prosecutor in the Reggio Calabria province.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain

  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'

  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?

  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets


  • Prof Piot, the first person to indentify Ebola virusHARDtalk Watch

    Ebola expert warns travellers could spread the disease further if it is not contained

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.