ROME, March 17, 2010— -- One of Italy's 100 most-wanted criminals, a vicious mafia boss who had been on the run for months, was betrayed by his passion for social networking and flushed out thanks to Facebook.
Using the name "Scarface" from the gangster movie starring Al Pacino, Pasquale Manfredi, 33, a boss of the the ferocious 'Ndrangheta mafia organization from the Calabria region in southern Italy, had logged on to his Facebook account so often that police were able to trace the signal from his Internet key and find his hideout.
Manfredi was arrested on Tuesday after 50 police officers surrounded the three-story building in the town of Isola Capo Rizzuto where Manfredi iived alone in a tiny basement apartment. When they broke in to get him, Manfredi ran for the roof but was caught on the second floor by the police, who had anticipated the move. Manfredi had a ladder set up on the roof for just such an occasion. The hide-out was a one-room bed and kitchen affair which managed to fit two computers, a treadmill and weight bar for the boss to keep in shape.
Crotone police crime squad chief Angelo Morabito told ABC News that when they caught Manfredi, the hitman congratulated him:" 'You are the boss of the invisibles,' he told me." Morabito said he was referring to the way the police were able to sneak up on Manfredi unseen. It was not the first time that Morabito had arrested Manfredi.
Asked whether using the Internet was perhaps a bad move on the part of Manfredi, police chief Morabito said that Mafia members in hiding "need to keep in touch either by passing notes, using cell phones or, in these days, via computer."
Morabito said Manfredi used Facebook to socialize but also to communicate with his cohorts, sometimes in code. He was not a particularly sophisticated computer user, he added.
Italian Mafia thugs are known to admire their Hollywood counterparts and the Brian de Palma movie "Scarface", in which Al Pacino plays a cocaine trafficker, seems to have struck a particular chord.