Italian police arrest ‘Ndrangheta mafia boss on the run
Italian authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of a top boss of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia after almost five years on the run, who featured on the police’s list of most dangerous criminals.
Pasquale Bonavota, 49, had been wanted since November 2018, after escaping an arrest warrant for homicide and mafia association issued by a magistrate in Calabria, in southern Italy.
He was arrested Thursday morning in the northern port city of Genoa, Italy’s carabinieri police said in a statement.
Local media said he had been leaving the city’s cathedral when arrested and was carrying a fake ID.
Bonavota is considered the brains of the ‘Ndrangheta’s Bonavota clan, which includes his two brothers, based in the Sant’Onofrio area of the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia.
The clan also operates around Rome, and in the northern regions of Piedmont and Liguria, which includes Genoa.
The ‘Ndrangheta is Italy’s most powerful and wealthy mafia, controlling the bulk of cocaine flowing into Europe. It operates in more than 40 countries around the world.
It has successfully expanded well beyond its traditional domains of drug trafficking and loan sharking, now using shell companies and frontmen to reinvest illegal gains in the legitimate economy.
Bonavota went on the run just after being sentenced by a lower court to life in prison for two murders committed in 2014 and 2004, of a lower-ranking member of his own clan, and a rival boss of a nearby clan.
That sentence was overturned in 2021 by an appeals court, while he was on the run.
However, Bonavota was the last remaining fugitive suspect implicated in the massive case against the Vibo Valentia ‘Ndrangheta that led to the 2021 maxi-trial against more than 300 alleged mafia members and their helpers.
The trial is still ongoing.
In that indictment, Bonavota is described as being a leader who “took the most important decisions” along with other top ‘Ndrangheta bosses, and “looked after the interests of the association in the Rome area and in the gambling sectors and drug trafficking”.
The arrest of Bonavota comes three months after the high-profile capture of Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.
The Cosa Nostra boss had been a fugitive for 30 years.