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Member of Italian Criminal Group Arrested After 20 Years on the Run

Policiá Judiciária (PJ), Portugal's criminal police agency, has announced that it has arrested a member of the Italian criminal group Camorra. A name has not been released yet, and the story is still developing. 


In a statement, the PJ said that the arrest was made in Northeast Portugal and that a European arrest warrant was out for the member. 


What is Camorra?


The Camorra is a criminal society whose origins are unclear but grew to power in 19th-century Naples. The gang gained notoriety for its criminal activities and has caused strife for the residents of Naples and even the rest of Italy. 


The group reached the peak of its infamy in the early 1900s and continued to be heavily involved in Italian society for the latter part of the century.


However, in the 21st century, various clans in the group have struggled because most of their leaders are dead or in prison. For example, Feliciano Mallardo of the Mallardo clan was found dead in his car. In another instance, Cosimo di Lauro of the Di Lauro clan died in prison. Another powerful blow to the group was the arrest of Maria Licciardi, the godmother of the group and a member of the Licciardi clan. These arrests were a significant blow to the criminal group and showed that the battle between law enforcement and Camorra was still alive. 


The arrests of high-ranking figures posed a threat to the survival of Camorra and in turn, its leadership. This left a power vacuum many smaller youth gangs attempted to fill. This phenomenon is called ‘Paranza’ by senior members of Camorra, meaning ‘small fish’. Many of them also record their exploits and boast about the things they have done. They often show themselves with expensive wine or designer clothes. 


However, many theorise that the group still functions efficiently and uses these youth gangs as a red herring to carry out its business under the radar. For example, Peppe Misso of the Misso clan stated that the group was still run by four important clans. Namely, the Licciardis, the Mallardos, the Moccias and the Continis. 


Camorra has been the subject of various investigations and manhunts, and in recent years, many significant arrests have been made. For example, in 2022, almost 100 members of the group were arrested, and $160 billion was seized in a drug trafficking raid. In another arrest in 2017, 41 people were arrested for crimes related to extortion and corruption.


In regards to the latest arrest by PJ, the man was 69 years old and sentenced years ago for drug trafficking. He had been absconding since. He will appear in Portuguese court and then be extradited to Italy. 


Thus, this arrest comes in tow of a series of arrests in recent years and could either be insignificant to the group's activities or mark the beginning of Europe’s crackdown on Camorra. Italy and other police agencies are now presented with the opportunity to capitalise on this arrest.


Edited by: Vidhi Dujodwala


Image Source: Portugal Resident

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