Brazilian police have captured Pasquale Scotti, one of the most wanted mobsters in Italy, officials have said. The fugitive had started a new life in Brazil after changing his name and appearance.
Pasquale Scotti was arrested in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife, in a joint operation with Interpol, Brazilian police announced Tuesday. The former boss of the Camorra crime syndicate had been on the run since the mid-1980s, and was convicted for more than 20 homicides by an Italian court.
The 56-year old Scotti was seized while driving his two teenage daughters to school, according to the AFP news agency.
Before his arrest, Scotti had been living in Recife for 28 years, under a name of Francisco de Castro Visconti. He used false identification, taxpayer and voter registration documents, and apparently underwent several plastic surgery procedures, the police have said.
The fugitive has also married a Brazilian woman, and owned a real estate and a fireworks company.
The man told the police that not even his Brazilian family knew his true identity, and that he wanted to "forget his past; that Pasquale Scotti no longer existed. Only Francisco de Castro exists," according to the head of Interpol's Brazilian operation, Federal olice officer Valdecy Urquiza Junior.
The former mafia boss also said that he left Italy out of fear of being killed.
Escape from the hospital
Italian authorities managed to arrest Scotti, a known member of Naples mafia, after a shootout in 1983. Scotti has suffered several gunshot during the gun battle.
On Christmas Eve of 1984, he managed to escape the hospital where he was treated after signing a plea bargain. Despite a series of raids and road blocks, Italian police were not able to locate him.
"He left no traces. It's as if he vanished," Italian police were quoted as saying in a La Repubblica article from the time.
The Camorra chief was later convicted in absentia by an Italian court for illegal possession of firearms, extortion and dozens of murders.
Italy's most wanted
On Tuesday, Brazilian police said that Scotti was indentified by comparing archived fingerprints. The Italian authorities have started the process leading to his extradition, officials have said.
Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano praised the arrest as an "extraordinary" success, underling that Scotti was among the most sought and dangerous fugitives on Italy's most-wanted list.
dj/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)