A drug trafficker believed to be the biggest cocaine smuggler in the world was deported back to Italy from Colombia on Saturday after being arrested in a Bogota shopping mall with fake Venezuelan papers.
Roberto Pannunzi, who fled from an Italian prison in 2010, smiled and chatted with officers as he arrived at Rome airport surrounded by Italian police and dressed in a white polo shirt and dark trousers — the same clothes he was detained in, a police video showed.
Referred to by Colombian authorities as the “Pablo Escobar of Italy”, Pannunzi was a member of the Calabrian mafia from southern Italy but had close ties with Colombian and Mexican drug cartels as well as the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.
Police say the 65-year-old Pannunzi, known by his associates as “Bebe” (Baby), organised massive shipments of cocaine from South America to Europe but managed to remain relatively anonymous in the criminal underworld.
“Bebe is not a mafioso, not a killer, Bebe is a broker,” an investigator said
Pannunzi, who has to serve out a 16 and a half year sentence in Italy and was on Interpol’s most wanted list.
“He is the biggest cocaine importer in the world, he is the only one who can organise purchases and sales of cocaine shipments of 3,000 kilos (6,600 pounds) and up,”
“He is definitely the most powerful drug broker in the world,” the lead prosecutor said