Long-wanted mafia boss captured in bunker


With marches underway to support anti-mafia efforts across Italy, police captured a notorious boss in the deadly ’Ndrangheta crime organization wanted for nearly 10 years for his part in a massacre in Germany.

Santo Vottari was found hiding in a bunker-like addition to a home in Reggio Calabria, a city on the toe of Italy’s boot across the water from Sicily.

The 44-year-old was long sought by authorities after he was found guilty in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 for his part in mafia feud that triggered a shootout in Duisburg, Germany that left six dead.
Santo Voltari in English
Mugshot of 44-year-old Santo Vottari (Carabinieri).

“I’d like to congratulate the police for bringing one of Italy's most wanted and dangerous men to justice,” Interior Minister Marco Minniti told reporters.

Vottari will now begin serving a prison sentence of 10 years and 8 months, said Vincenzo Franzese, the police captain who headed the operation.

His conviction stems from killings in a feud between two rival clans, the Nirta-Strangio and Pelle-Vottari, following the Christmas 2006 murder of a rival boss’s wife that Vottari ordered, said police. A revenge attack outside a pizzeria in Duisburg in August 2007 left six people dead.

Though the Sicilian mafia is much better known publicly, Italian police and intelligence services consider the ’Ndrangheta organization based in Calabria even more deadly and well organized. Its factions have tentacles throughout Europe where they are heavily involved in cocaine smuggling, money laundering and movement into legitimate businesses.

Unlike the U.S., which has the powerful RICO statutes making membership in and planning of organized crime a felony, and Italy, which has similar strong laws, most European countries have not criminalized mafia membership. As a result, Italian experts say the ’Ndrangheta has moved into other countries and is now operating without stiff legal opposition throughout Europe.
Bunker home of Santo Vottari
Policeman enters the tunnel to Vottari's bunker-like addition to a home in Reggio Calabria (screenshot of Carabinieri video).

With strong connections to drug cartels in South and Central America, the ’Ndrangheta is now considered among the most powerful organized crime groups in the world.

Last year Italian police captured Ernesto Fazzalari, a senior ’Ndrangheta leader who had been on the run for 20 years.