Wanted Italian mob boss caught in Colombia

July 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM
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BOGOTA, July 6 (UPI) -- Colombian police said they captured a reputed Italian mafia leader who is allegedly deeply involved in the European cocaine trade.

Roberto Pannunzi was nabbed at a shopping center near Bogota and was to be shipped off to Italian authorities as early as Sunday.

The Colombian defense ministry said on Twitter Pannunzi was the "Pablo Escobar of Italy," a reference to the notorious Colombian cocaine mogul.

CNN said the arrest was the result of collaboration between Colombian police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Pannunzi has allegedly been involved in cocaine trafficking since at least 1994. He had been on the run since 2010, when he staged an escape from a Rome hospital where he was being treated for a heart problem.

Officials said Pannunzi was the boss of the powerful Calabrian mob in Italy, which allegedly imported around 2 tons of cocaine into Europe every month, the BBC said.

Pannunzi presented a Venezuelan passport with an assumed name to officers who stopped him Saturday. He then allegedly offered a $1 million bribe to allow him to walk away, Britain's The Daily Telegraph said.

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