Italian mob boss Antonio Pelle has been arrested in a very embarrassing manner. On Wednesday, as the cameras rolled, Italian police commanded the dangerous mafia fugitive to get out of his bunker.
The authorities combed through Pelle’s home in Benestare, Italy several times before someone spotted an anomaly behind an armoire.
The impressive armoire, which was located between a bedroom and a bathroom, was hiding a bunker. The Polizia di Stato national police eventually discovered that Italy’s most wanted mob boss had been hiding in what is described as a bunker behind the armoire.
The mafia boss had been hiding in his home since he escaped from a hospital five years ago. Pelle, the head of organized crime centered in Calabria, was ordered to climb out of the home bunker and he did after having a brief exchange with the police.
The scene was quite silly as the grown man got down from the armoire like a child who was playing hide-and-seek. Pelle, 54, was immediately handcuffed and escorted out of the mansion.
According to the police, the hideout contained a small mattress, a fan, a few bottles of water and a load of cash. This is the second time; the criminal was arrested in the past five years.
Pelle is the head of ‘Ndrangheta – a powerful crime syndicate in Italy. He built an impressive wealth via narcotics trafficking, extortion, and money laundering activities. The ‘Ndrangheta has established branches in Canada, Belgium, Australia, and Argentina. According to reports:
“Italian DIA (Direzione Investigativa Antimafia, Department of the Police of Italy against organized crime) and Guardia di Finanza (Italian Financial Police and Customs Police) the “‘Ndrangheta is now one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.”
The business volume of the ‘Ndrangheta is estimated at almost 44 billion euros in 2007, approximately 2.9% of Italy’s GDP, according to Eurispes (European Institute of Political, Economic, and Social Studies) in Italy. Drug trafficking is the most profitable activity with 62% of the total turnover.”
In 2008, Pelle, who was high on the interior ministry’s list of most dangerous mafia fugitives, was arrested. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in an extensive list of crimes including arms and drug trafficking.
In 2011, Pelle, who was struggling with anorexia, was taken to a hospital in Locri where he managed to escape, and authorities had been searching for him ever since. Members of the Pelle family are often involved in crimes and try to use hospitals to get or stay out of prison.
In 2012, Giuseppe Pelle, his son, Antonio, and his wife, Marianna Barbaro, were arrested after authorities had learned they had cooked up a fake depression story to stay out of jail.
The members of the ‘Ndrangheta had paid or intimidated several doctors and an attorney into falsifying documents claiming the patriarch was suffering from psychiatric conditions “incompatible with detention.”
Police commander Francesco Ratta said after the arrest:
“Fifty of us searched the two-storey villa where Pelle had always lived, but it took a very attentive eye to discover his hiding place.”
Online commenters had a lot of fun at the expense of Mr. Pelle.