Colombia Recaptures Italian Mafia Fugitive After a Year at Large

Posted on Jun 5 2014 - 6:23pm by Rico

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Authorities in Colombia have re-arrested one of Italy’s 20 most wanted mafiosos, serving as further evidence of the ‘Ndrangheta’s renewed presence in the country and raising questions about why he was allowed to roam free for a year after his first capture.

On June 3, Colombian security forces detained Domenico Trimboli, alias “Pasquale,” on drug trafficking charges in Caldas, a town in the northwestern department of Antioquia, reported El Colombiano. His arrest came as a result of on an extradition request sent by the Italian government, reported W Radio.

According to police, Trimboli is a high-level member of the famous ‘Ndrangheta mafia who maintained ties with both Colombian and Spanish drug traffickers and coordinated the purchase, storage and trafficking of drugs to Italy and other parts of Western Europe. He allegedly moved around Europe using fake identity documents.

Trimboli was first captured in April 2013 in the city of Medellin, where he allegedly worked on behalf of one of the top ‘Ndrangheta leaders, Santo Scipione — who was also arrested. He was set to be extradited to Italy where he faced a 12-year prison sentence, but was later released because the time limit for the judicial process expired.

According to Italian news source NTACalibria, the Argentine-born Trimboli has a long history operating in Italy’s underworld, and was previously arrested in 1992 and 1997. He has been on the run from Italian authorities since 2009.

The ‘Ndrangheta mafia developed deep connections in Colombia in the 1990s, working closely with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries and building a drug trafficking empire that authorities estimate is responsible for some 80 percent of cocaine trafficked into Italy. However, as Mexican groups have come to dominate the cocaine industry, many of the Italian mafia’s connections shifted north, where they have established relationships with Mexican groups such as the Zetas.

Nonetheless, Trimboli’s second arrest follows on from a number of signs the main Italian mafia groups may be showing a renewed interest in Colombia. Last year, at least three major players were arrested in the country in addition to Trimboli, among them Iacomino Tomasso of the Cosa Nostra, who has been identified as one of the main men responsible for developing the Italian mafia’s Colombian networks.

Trimboli’s case raises the question of why such an important figure was released once and allowed to continue operating in the country for a year after his first arrest. Prior to his April 2013 detention, he had lived in one of Medellin’s wealthiest neighborhoods, and one Italian prosecutor said his money had been an important factor in allowing him to maintain operations in the country undisturbed for many years.