By Associated Press Writer
updated 2/18/2008 7:08:49 PM ET 2008-02-19T00:08:49

Police on Monday captured the top boss of a powerful organized crime syndicate whose clan feuds have bloodied southern Italy for years, authorities said Monday.

Pasquale Condello, 57, was arrested in an apartment in the center of the regional capital, Reggio Calabria, after nearly two decades as a fugitive, police said. There was a pistol in the residence, but Condello offered no resistance, police said.

Condello was known as "the supreme one" for his alleged role at the top of the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate. He was No. 2 on the police list of Italy's most dangerous fugitives, the Apcom news agency said.

"It is the latest, extraordinary operation against organized crime," Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said in a statement.

Anti-Mafia prosecutor Alberto Cisterna told Sky TG24 TV that the Condello crime clan was one of the most ferocious 'ndrangheta families and that Condello had received several life prison terms for four murders and other crimes.

He went underground while appealing his conviction for the 1987 slaying of a former head of the Italian state railways.

The 'ndrangheta in recent years has eclipsed the Sicilian Mafia in power and reach, especially in trafficking cocaine between Colombia and Europe, investigators have said.

While the 'ndrangheta increased its power, the Sicilian mob suffered harsh blows with the arrest of several top bosses in the recent years, sometimes with the aid of informers. Few informers have emerged in the 'ndrangheta, which is based mainly on family ties.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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