A police video of the arrest showed Pelle’s head peek out from the top of a large closet in his home in Benestare, a small town on the toe of Italy’s southernmost region. As he talks to police, he climbs down and is handcuffed.
“Fifty of us searched the two-storey villa where Pelle had always lived, but it took a very attentive eye to discover his hiding place,” police commander Francesco Ratta said in comments broadcast on TV.
In his house, concealed by a large cabinet, was a sealable cavity cut into the wall. Inside was a small bunker used as a hiding spot, containing a mattress, water bottles, toilet paper, a cooling fan and bottles for him to pee in. He was recaptured on Oct. 5, 2016, after escaping from a hospital in Locri in 2011.
Pelle had lain silently in a niche built behind the closet during the search until he was discovered, police said. The room contained a mattress, a fan, some bottles of water and cash, the video showed.
First arrested and jailed in 2008, Pelle escaped three years later when he was sent to hospital for urgent medical treatment.
Pelle was listed as one of Italy’s 100 most dangerous fugitives but was in the process of being upgraded — he was to be listed on the Top 10 most dangerous fugitives list. Police said he had been sentenced to 20 years in jail for mafia association and drug trafficking. While he was on house arrest he disappeared.
Much like the Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’, Pelle himslf is no stranger to bunkers. When he was last arrested in 2008, he was also found in an underground bunker, complete with a marijuana garden.
Ignoble sight. Pelle, head of one Italy’s strongest mafia clans clambering down from behind a closet in his into the hands of waiting police
Over the past two decades the Calabrian mafia, known as the ‘Ndrangheta, has become Italy’s most powerful and wealthy organised crime group thanks to its role as one of Europe’s biggest importers of South American cocaine, investigators say.
Pelle is considered the head of the Pelle-Vottari clan, which is active in the Calabrian town of San Luca. It has been fighting the Nirta-Strangio clan, which drew international attention to Calabria’s ’Ndrangheta mob in 2007 when one of its feuds left six dead in an Italian restaurant in Duisburg, Germany.
Police traced Pelle to his own home in Bovalino, where he was found with a police camera capturing the ignoble situation. Pelle fled house arrest sentenced 20 years in prison as a result of a definitive sentence for Mafia association and drug dealing.
In reality, the Pelle-Vottari clan came to public prominence by way of its bloody vendetta with local rival mob, the Nirta-Strangio clan, that culminated in the infamous Duisburg massacre of August 15, 2007. Six associates of the Pelle clan were gunned down outside Da Bruno Italian restaurant in Duisburg, Germany on the day.
German police in front of the Da Bruno Italian restaurant in Duisburg, where six men were shot dead in an apparent Mafia vendetta between the Pelle-Vottari and Nirta-Strangio clans. Six people died in the 2007 massacre
The roots of the dramtic feud apparently stem from a fight at a San Luca carnival
in 1991 that led to two men from the Stangio-Nirta clan being killed, inevitably spawning a tit-for-tat vandetta.
The feud escalated when a Pelle clan member was paralyzed in a botched assasination attempt as he stood on the balcony wih his newborn child. Hitting back, Pelle-Vottari gunman shot up the home of Giovanni Luca Nirta, the Nirta-Strangio clan’s boss, on Christmas Day in 2006.Strangio’s wife, Maria Strangio, was Killed in the ensuing gunfire. Less than a year later, in a spectacular revenge bid, the Duisberg massacre took place. Among the six casaulties were two victims suspected of being involved in the killing of the wife of the boss of the Nirta-Strangio clan.