Denis Foynes – Roberto Pannunzi, Europe’s most wanted drug trafficker and Italy’s answer to Pablo Escobar, has been arrested in Colombia and extradited from there to Italy.
Pannunzi, 65, is the alleged leader of the ’Ndrangheta family based in Calabria, in the deep south of Italy. The family are suspected of importing two tonnes of cocaine into Europe per month. He is accused of establishing the transatlantic cocaine trade routes between Italy and Colombia.
The alleged leader, nicknamed “Bebe”, was arrested in a shopping mall in Bogota in a joint operation by the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the Colombian authorities.
Previously sentenced to prison, Pannunzi has been on the run since 2010 after he dramatically escaped for a prison clinic while receiving treatment in a prison in Rome.
It is claimed that Pannunzi voyaged the world with a suitcase of cash so as to be able to bribe his way out of trouble if he needed to. He is said to have offered his captors in Colombia US$1 million to set him free.
“Pannunzi was the most wanted man in the country,” the defence ministry stated in a twitter post.
“When he was captured, Pannunzi identified himself with a fake Venezuelan identification card bearing the name Silvano Martino,” the ministry explained.
“He is the biggest cocaine importer in the world,” said Nicola Gratteri, deputy chief prosecutor in Reggio Calabria. “He is the only one who can organise purchases and sales of cocaine shipments of 3,000 kilos (6,600 pounds) and up,” Gratteri explained to reporters. “He is definitely the most powerful drug broker in the world.”
His arrest could change the future of drug trafficking in Italy and internationally alike.