An Italian mafia boss who has been accused of running the cocaine trade in Rome was arrested at a job centre in Spain as he was trying to go straight and find lawful employment.
Giuseppe Refrigeri was said to be one of the leaders of the Banda della Marranella, which police allege to have an almost monopoly on the drugs trade in the Italian capital.
Spanish police said on Friday the 66-year-old was arrested at the job centre in the Costa del Sol resort of Estepona while he was trying to find gainful employment.
Refrigeri faces extradition to Italy where he is wanted for allegedly trying to smuggle 325kg of hashish into the country in 2018.
After the drugs were intercepted in France, a court in Rome issued an international arrest warrant for Refrigeri who police believed was hiding out on the Costa del Sol.
In 2018, he was arrested in Spain where he was accused of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation.
Refrigeri allegedly organised sending drugs to Italy from his home on the Costa del Sol.
After spending two years in prison in Spain, he was released but then arrested again last week. Police only made the detention public on Friday.
Spain’s Civil Guard said Refrigeri no longer lived in a luxury villa as he had before, and now stays in a more modest flat.
In an effort to turn his back on crime, he had registered as a foreign national with authorities by going to a police station and had paid frequent visits to the job centre in Estepona.
In 2018, in an operation codenamed Maverick II, Refrigeri was arrested along with 13 other people.
Officers seized 500kg of hashish, six luxury cars and a specially adapted vehicle to transport the drugs from Spain to Italy.
Spanish police were working with the Italian Carabinieri when the mafia boss was arrested.
In Italy, police arrested 42 alleged members of the Banda della Marranella gang in 2018 and seized €2 million worth of goods.
The gang worked with British drug dealers on the Costa del Sol to get their supply of hashish from Spain to Italy, sources said.
Police sources said the gang used extreme violence to steal drugs from other gangs.
Two Italians who were members of another gang were kidnapped and tortured for 24 hours to try to find out the location of a drug stash.
The drugs were transported in caravans driven by bogus tourists from Spain to Italy.