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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
Lancs arrest over mafia killings
An armed police officer
Armed police detained the man at an address in Preston
A man wanted in Italy on suspicion of four murders connected to the Naples mafia has been arrested in the UK.

Police traced Gennaro Panzuto, 32, to a flat in Preston, Lancashire, after a search which lasted more than a year.

Armed officers detained him following months of undercover work by the Italian police and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Calls made by his family from public telephone boxes in Naples led detectives to the UK address.

'Significant arrest'

Vittorio Pisano, chief of the Naples Flying Squad, said Mr Panzuto was wanted in Italy as "a very senior member" of the Naples mafia, the Camorra, and said his arrest was of "great significance".

He said Mr Panzuto was suspected of involvement in a deadly battle in Naples between his clan, the Pincirillos, and rivals, the Missos.

The battle has resulted in the deaths of 20 people in three months. Mr Panzuto is suspected of involvement in four of those murders.

When I heard that he had been located to Preston I had to look it up in an atlas as I had never heard of the place
Vittorio Pisano
Chief of the Naples Flying Squad

Mr Pisano said: "He was the head of the Pincirillo clan which he took over from his uncles of the same name when they were arrested two years ago."

He said that Preston seemed to be a "rather unusual place to hide out" as most people "preferred the South of France or Spain".

"When I heard that he had been located to Preston I had to look it up in an atlas as I had never heard of the place," he added.

It is understood Mr Panzuto is being held by police in Preston, waiting to appear before magistrates for an extradition hearing.

Police in Italy said Mr Panzuto was also suspected of using mafia funds to establish shoe and clothing shops in Manchester and London, which it is alleged he was using to launder money.

Soca said it could not comment on operational issues.

A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said Mr Panzuto was taken to Lancaster police station after his arrest on Wednesday in connection with an extradition warrant.

The force was not involved in the operation and Mr Panzuto was later transferred to London.

Mafia links

Another alleged mafia boss from Naples was arrested in east London last year.

Raffaele Caldarelli, 35, was detained by armed police in Hackney, where he was running a shoe shop.

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail in his absence in 1995 for crimes such as extortion.

Police in his home town of Naples described Mr Caldarelli as a very dangerous man and said they suspected him of being involved in several murders.

Mr Caldarelli is currently in custody and is awaiting extradition to Italy.


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