SAINT-ÉTIENNE, France: A convicted Italian killer, believed to belong to one of the country's most powerful mafia organisations, was arrested on Thursday in France after 16 years on the run, Interpol said.
Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious 'Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.
Interpol said he was arrested in the French city of Saint-Etienne, where he had at one point run an Italian restaurant under an alias, according to French prosecutors.
He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, said Interpol.
He is also accused there of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro "as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s".
The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.
In Saint-Etienne, Greco in June 2021 became the owner of an Italian restaurant called Caffe Rossini Ristorante, running it until November 2021, French prosecutors said.
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According to documents seen by AFP, he used the name Paolo Dimitrio and also worked in other Italian restaurants in the city.
A still-open Facebook account for the Caffe Rossini Ristorante, which now appears to have been closed down, shows local press covered its opening in 2021.
"Paolo Dimitrio opens the restaurant of his dreams," said the headline in the article in the local Le Progres newspaper.
Greco also worked evenings in a pizza restaurant under his assumed named, according to Italian media.
After his arrest in the early hours of the morning, he appeared before an investigating magistrate in Lyon who formally notified him of Italy's arrest warrant, prosecutors said.
He was then placed in detention.
Greco's arrest came with help for Italy and France from the "Cooperation against 'Ndrangheta Project" (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol's statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country's commitment to "fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives".
The 'Ndrangheta is considered Italy's most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America.
- Recent arrests -
I-CAN's job is help raise awareness of 'Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.
The arrest of Greco came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a 'Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros ($270 million).
Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.
His arrest also came just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.
The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo