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'Mafia man' arrested in Venezuela

Italian police
Italian police have made several mafia arrests in recent months

An Italian Mafia fugitive, listed as one of the country's 30 most dangerous men, has been arrested in Venezuela, Italian police say.

Salvatore Miceli, on the run since 2001, had been under surveillance for three days before he was seized by officers in the capital, Caracas.

He is suspected of being a link between Sicily's Cosa Nostra, the 'Ndrangheta network and Colombian drug cartels.

Italy's interior minister said his arrest was an "important operation".

A police statement said: "The investigation has essentially confirmed Miceli's primary role in the drug trafficking sector and his ability to build a close network of relations with various trans-national organised crime groups."

High-profile arrests

Italian police have inflicted a number of major blows on the Sicilian Mafia in recent years.

Arrests have included the man known as the "boss of bosses" Bernardo Provenzano in 2006, followed by the arrest of his heir apparent Salvatore Lo Piccolo in 2007.

Pasquale Condello, the boss of the 'Ndrangheta - which operates from Calabria in southern Italy and is considered even more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia - was arrested in February 2008.

In more recent months a number of operations in Sicily and the mainland have led to the detention of dozens more members of the Mafia, and arrests of members of the Camorra - a separate group operating around Naples.

When Silvio Berlusconi was elected prime minister last year he promised to be more aggressive towards organised crime.

A few hundred troops were sent to the Naples area to help police.

It is hard to conclude that all this current activity against the various mafia amounts to a concerted attempt to break them, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Rome.

But it does seem like an extremely productive period for the authorities, even if the mob in all its guises continues to evolve and survive, he adds.



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