The arrest on the island of Sicily of a top mafia mobster who had spent 15 years on the run has been heralded as a major blow to organised crime in Italy.
“The capture of Domenico Raccuglia was one of the strongest blows inflicted on Mafia organisations in recent years as the fugitive was in fact the Cosa Nostra’s number two,” said Roberto Maroni Italy’s Interior Minister.
The 45-year-old has been convicted of five murders and was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the killing of a rival’s 9-year-old son whose body was then thrown into a vat of acid.
Police seized the fugitive in a house on the Western tip of the island. It is believed Raccuglia was a potential contender to become the new boss of the Mafia in Palermo.
He was nicknamed “the veterinarian” for his love of animals and was considered one of Italy’s 30 most dangerous fugitives. A crowd gathered at the headquarters of the island’s police force in Palermo as the fugitve was brought in. As he was led away the crowd chanted “we are the true Sicilians.”
The authorities claim more than 3600 Mafia members have been seized in the last 18 months.