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Italian mafia fugitive arrested while running pizza restaurant in Spain

Spanish police have arrested a suspected member of Italy's Camorra mafia who has been on the run since 2007 in the Mediterranean port of Valencia where he owned a pizzeria.

Italian mafia fugitive arrested while running pizza restaurant in Spain
Photo: Carabinieri Napoli

Officers on Wednesday arrested 44-year-old Pasquale Brunese who is originally from Naples, home of the Camorra, one Italy's biggest mafia groups, a local police spokesman said.

Brunese was detained in May 2007 in Italy for possession of cocaine and heroin but the authorities lost track of him.   

He was then sentenced in absentia to nine years and nine months in jail for drug trafficking, extortion and membership in an organised crime group.   

Italy issued an international warrant for his arrest and has requested his extradition.

Brunese will on Friday appear before Spain's top criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional.

Italy's three main mafia groups the Camorra, Sicily's Cosa Nostra and Calabria's 'Ndrangheta, have a joint annual turnover of €116 billion ($126.8 billion), according to a United Nations estimate.

Spanish police announced last week they had detained one of Europe's most wanted drug lords, 44-year-old British national Robert Dawes, in his luxury villa on the Costa del Sol after an eight-year probe that allegedly linked him to the Italian mafia and South American cartels.

Italian police released a photograph of the suspect posing with the pizza chef at his establishment in Valencia.

He was arrested at the “A mi Manera” pizzeria restaurant in Puerto de Segunto, Valencia, which he owned under an assumed name.  


Photo: Carabinieri Napoli

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CRIME

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

Spanish police announced on Saturday the seizure of 4.5 tonnes of cocaine aboard a Togolese-flagged cargo ship from Latin America which was intercepted off the Canary Islands.

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

The “Orion V”, which transported cattle from Latin America to the Middle East, had been under surveillance for over two years and had previously been “checked and searched, but no drugs could be found inside, despite the presence of sufficient clues”, police said.

A joint naval and air operation finally made the breakthrough locating the cocaine on Tuesday, hidden in a container used to feed the cattle.

The operation mobilised among others the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for narcotics (MAOC-N), the Togolese authorities and the Spanish police.

The 28 crew members from nine countries were arrested.

The “Orion V” was similar to another Togolese-flagged vessel, the “Blume”, which was intercepted in mid-January in the same area south-east of the Canary Islands, on which the same amount of cocaine was found.

A total of nine tonnes of drugs have been seized in January, police said in a statement.

Spain’s proximity to North Africa, a key source of hashish, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, the world’s main cocaine-producing region, have made it a gateway into Europe for drugs.

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