An Italian man identified as the fugitive crime boss of the ‘Ndrangheta gang, thought to be one of the world’s wealthiest criminal organizations in the world, has been arrested in Madrid.

In a joint operation by Spanish and Italian police the man identified as Domenico Paviglianiti, 60, was tracked down to his hiding place in Madrid after two years on the run.

Domenico Paviglianiti police
A photo of Domenico Paviglianiti handed out by Italian Carabineri.

Known as the ‘boss of bosses’ for his role in the Calabria-based mafia clan, police tracked him down to the Spanish capital where he was carrying fake Portuguese identity papers, six cellphones and €6,000 in cash when he was arrested, the Spanish police said in a statement on Thursday.

Officers moved in on Paviglianiti as he took a stroll in broad daylight along a Madrid street, a video released by Spain’s National Police showed.

Paviglianiti was first arrested in Spain in 1996 and extradited to Italy, where he began serving a life sentence for crimes including murder and drug trafficking.

But he was mistakenly released early in October 2019 after a miscalculation in his sentencing and he fled back to Spain and disappeared.

In January a court in Bologna, Italy issued a fresh sentence ‘in absentia’ handing Paviglianiti another 11 years, eight months and 15 days in prison for his crimes.

The ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate is now considered by far the most powerful criminal group in Italy, overshadowing the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Campanian Camorra mafias to become one of the richest criminal organisations in the world.

A study by the Demoskopita Research Institute in 2013 estimated it was more financially powerful than Deutsche Bank and McDonald’s combined, with an annual turnover of €53billion.

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