Giuseppe Setola, the suspected head of the Casalesi murder squad run by the Camorra mafia clan, was caught today in a small town northwest of Naples, Italy, two days after he dodged arrest by crawling through sewer tunnels underneath his hideout, Italian police announced.
Setola was found in an abandoned house on the outskirts of the small town of Mignano Montelungo betwen Caserta and Frosinone in southern Italy. He tried to escape over the rooftop when police entered the house but was captured and handcuffed.
Setola, who had a wrist injury believed to have been suffered during Monday's sewer escape, reportedly shouted at police that they had the wrong man, but the police were not convinced.
"He looked very similar to his 'wanted' photo, but was dirty and unshaven with some scars on his face," Captain Costantino Airoldi told ABC News.
"This is a great moment for the [Italian] state," Naples anti-Mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti told the Italian news agency ANSA after the successful conclusion of the manhunt. "We were certain [Setola] was in a situation of great difficulty. We promised all the citizens that he would be caught. We have kept that promise."
Roberti said when he was told of the arrast he felt "great joy, a great sense of pride, because the state has succeeded, the anti-Mafia apparatus has worked."
Two other men found in the house with Setola when the police arrived were also arrested. One is Paolo Gargiulo, from Aversa, a young man in his twenties who is a familiar name to mafia investigators. He is believed to be part of the infamous Bidognetti clan.
The other is an Italian-American nameded John Peram Loran from Naples with no police record. The two did not resist arrest, and it is believed now that they were both with Setola when he escaped via the sewers Monday morning in Trentola Ducenta.
Italy's interior minister, Roberto Maroni, expressed "great satisfaction" with the news. He said this was a "very strong blow for the Carmorra" and thanked all the magistrates and police forces working on this important case.
Setola, one of the country's most-wanted fugitives, had previously eluded police arrest for the third time earlier this week. Barefoot and dressed only in pajamas, he ducked into the underground sewer system through a trap door under a bed in his hideout near northern Naples early Monday morning. Hot in pursuit, a number of carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary police, clambered down after him after finding the trap door, but they were too late.
Press reports said Setola made his abrupt getaway into the sewers at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning. After crawling along for about 1.5 miles in the dank, foul-smelling tunnels, he emerged from a manhole in front of a cheese shop and stole a woman's car as she was about to drive off.
The car was later found abandoned in the area close to where another car was stolen shortly afterward in which he made his way to the Mignano Montelungo.
Setola, who has already been sentenced to life in prison, is the boss of the Casalesi clan in the Camorra crime organization. Prosecutors believe he is responsible for drug trafficking, extortion and multiple brutal killings in the area.
Setola is on Italy's list of the 30-most-wanted fugitives and is suspected of being responsible for the massacre of six West African immigrants who were murdered in the nearby town of Castel Volturno in September.