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football field near me:Italian mob suspect on the run for 11 years captured after being spotted celebrating soccer team's win

Mafia boss arrested in Italy
Italian police capture mafia boss after 30 years on the run 02:52

Hometown passion for this year's Italian soccer champions from Naples betrayed the hideout of a long-time crime fugitive, who was captured while riding a motor scooter on a Greek island, Italian police said over the weekend.

Naples-based Carabinieri paramilitary police said the man, who was on Italy's list of 100 most dangerous fugitives, was spotted in a photo of fans in a restaurant in Corfu who were celebrating after the Napoli soccer squad clinched Italy's top league championship a few weeks ago.

Italian police then headed to Corfu to tail the fugitive, identified as 60-year-old Vincenzo La Porta, who had been on the lam for 11 years.

Vincenzo La Porta in Corfu, Greece, celebrating a soccer title won by Napoli. Carabineri Napoli via Reuters

They didn't specify when his recent arrest was carried out, but said officers blocked him going down a Corfu street on a motor scooter. Greek police later said La Porta was arrested on Friday.

La Porta, considered close to a crime clan of the Naples-based Camorra syndicate, was convicted in absentia of criminal association, tax evasion and fraud, the police said.

According to the owner of a different restaurant on the island, La Porta had been working there as an assistant chef for the last month or so.

Police in Corfu said he appeared before a prosecutor on Saturday and was ordered held in jail until a panel of appeals court judges rules on the extradition request. Italy wants him extradited to serve a prison sentence of 14 years and four months.

"We will say he does not want to be extradited," Athanassios Giannakouris, La Porta's lawyer told The Associated Press. "He was sentenced long ago for tax offenses. He has started a new family in Greece... He has a 9-year-old boy and is working as a cook to get by. He suffers from heart ailments. If he's extradited, he and his family will be ruined."

Police said they had been following La Porta's online activity, including financial movements, and waited for him to make a false move that could tip them off to his whereabouts.

"Betraying him was his passion for soccer and for the Napoli team,'' police said in a statement. "With the championship victory, La Porta couldn't resist celebrating."

Investigators spotted La Porta in a photo of celebrants at the restaurant, where he was holding in his hands a scarf in the sky-blue colors of his hometown team.

His arrest is the latest in a string apprehensions of Italian mafia fugitives who have been caught recently after years on the run.

In April, Italian authorities announced the arrest of Pasquale Bonavota, a top boss of the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate, one of Italy's most powerful organized crime groups, after almost five years on the run. He had also featured on the police's list of most dangerous criminals.

Edgardo Greco, a convicted murderer suspected of belonging to the 'Ndrangheta syndicate, was busted in February after more than 16 years on the run, including years spent working at a pizza restaurant in France.

In January, Italian authorities arrested Italy's most-wanted fugitive, taking mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro into custody after a 30-year manhunt. Messina Denaro's arrest brought to a close the era of the "Cosa Nostra" Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in "The Godfather" movies.

AFP contributed to this report.

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