Alleged mafia kingpin arrested in Amsterdam

Giovanni Strangio wanted over vendetta killing of six 'Ndrangheta members in Germany

An alleged Italian gangster accused of leading one of the bloodiest massacres in the annals of organised crime has been seized by police in Amsterdam.

Giovanni Strangio is wanted by investigators in Italy over a multiple killing at Duisburg in Germany two years ago that earned comparisons with the infamous St Valentine's Day Massacre in ­prohibition-era Chicago. Six people, including a 17-year-old boy, were shot dead outside a restaurant where they were suspected of celebrating an initiation into the 'Ndrangheta, the mafia of the poor, southern Italian region of Calabria.

Police in Italy said 29-year-old Strangio was found living in the centre of Amsterdam with his wife and son. His brother-in-law, Francesco Romeo, was also arrested.

Though Strangio was placed on Italy's most-wanted list over the murders in Germany, the story behind the killings led back to the small but notorious hillside town of San Luca, in Calabria, often described as the spiritual home of the 'Ndrangheta. Its clans have for years been bloodily divided by a feud in which Strangio's family was a prime actor.

Investigators believe he assembled the four-man hit squad that struck in Duisburg to avenge the Christmas Day killing in 2006 of his cousin Maria Strangio. She is thought to have been killed unintentionally in an ambush primarily directed at her husband, the leader of one of the two factions in the gang war that has rent San Luca and upset the internal workings of the 'Ndrangheta.

The Calabrian mafia, which many police and prosecutors believe has overtaken the Cosa Nostra to become Italy's top crime syndicate, controls much of the cocaine trafficking into Europe from Latin America.

Police said wiretaps on telephones used by Strangio's relatives had provided vital clues to his whereabouts. He was an early suspect having been arrested and later released after being found in possession of a weapon at his cousin's funeral. His photograph was later recognised by an eyewitness to the killings and a gun shop worker who said he had sold him four flak jackets.

Contributor

John Hooper

The GuardianTramp

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