Italian mafia fugitive returns to Italy from Spain: Police

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A major Italian mafia fugitive who controlled cocaine routes within Europe has been returned by authorities to Rome from Spain, police said on Saturday.

Giuseppe Romeo, 35, arrived at Fiumicino Airport under escort from Barcelona Friday night, following his March 11 arrest on a European arrest warrant after three years on the run, police said in a statement.

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Romeo is accused of being a top member of an international drug network run by three ‘Ndrangheta clans based in the Reggio Calabria area of the southern Italian region of Calabria.

The ‘Ndrangheta is Italy’s most powerful mafia group, involved in nearly all areas of criminal activity beyond drug trafficking and extortion, whose operations extend throughout Europe and beyond.

According to an Italian police statement, Romeo, who lived in Germany, “had the role of promoter, organizer and financier of trafficking of cocaine in Europe.”

“He shuttled between Calabria, Lombardy and north-western Europe to make agreements with suppliers and with suppliers and with some intermediaries in Belgium, Holland and Germany.”

In 2018, he managed to escape the “European Ndrangheta Connection” raid carried out by Italian, German, Dutch and Belgian authorities that targeted about 90 people suspected of involvement in the cross-border drug and money laundering ring.

In November, Romeo was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for charges related to international drug trafficking, mafia association, drug possession, and money laundering.

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