Italy: Mob boss arrest uncovers alleged murder plot

Reggio Calabria, 8 August (AKI) - A plot to murder an Italian anti-Mafia prosecutor has been uncovered by police in an operation involving the arrest of fugitive mob boss Giuseppe Coluccio in Canada, Italian investigators said on Friday.

The alleged plot involved killing Nicola Gratteri while he was being driven to the public prosecutor's office in the Calabrian Mafia stronghold of Locri in southern Italy under police escort.

Police intercepts of telephone conversations between two members of the Calabrian Mafia or 'Ndrangheta uncovered the alleged plot.

The police phone taps overheard prominent 'Ndrangheta member Vicenzo Macri discussing the plan to murder Gratteri with his son-in-law Antonio Stefano in Melfi prison, Potenza.

Italy's Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni on Friday praised the Carabinieri paramilitary police for the investigation that had led to the arrest of Coluccio in Canada on Thursday.

The probe was conducted jointly with Canadian police.

Coluccio was arrested on Thursday outside the luxury lakeside apartment building where he has been living in Toronto, Gratteri announced. He had been living under an assumed identity.

He was arrested on charges of Mafia association and extortion and was being held pending extradition to Italy where he is wanted for trial.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day issued a statement praising the country's immigration taskforce for their investigation and arrest of Coluccio.

Coluccio has been on the run since 2005 when he fled trial in Italy for Mafia association aimed at drug trafficking and extortion.

Investigators allege that Coluccio and members of the Sicilian Mafia ran an extortion racket that involved control of the fishing trade and maritime traffic along a 60-kilometre stretch of the Calabrian coast.

The investigators also allege that Coluccio continued to traffick "substantial quantities" of cocaine and hashish from South America while he was living in Canada.

Coluccio was also in contact with Turkish criminal organisations that supplied the trafficking ring with "huge" quantities of heroin, investigators said.

Local fishing boats under Coluccio's control were used to transport the heroin to the Calabrian coast, investigators claim.


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