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Italian fugitive arrested after soccer celebration blows his cover

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Draped in the blue regalia of SSC Napoli, he could have been any 60-year-old Neapolitan cheerfully celebrating his home squad’s Serie A soccer league title.

But he wasn’t just anyone. He was Vincenzo La Porta, the Italian fugitive who evaded capture for more than a decade despite being listed by the Interior Ministry as one of Italy’s most dangerous men.

On Friday, an online photograph of La Porta celebrating his team’s win on the balcony of a restaurant alerted police to his location on the Greek island of Corfu, where he was intercepted on a motor scooter and arrested after 11 years on the run.

“The Carabinieri recognized him in a photo taken on the facade of a restaurant. He wore a baseball cap on his head, a blue scarf in his hands,” the Carabinieri, Italy’s national police force, said in a statement Saturday announcing La Porta’s capture. “Betraying him was his passion for soccer and for the Napoli team.”

The photograph, shared by the police, showed La Porta standing on a balcony adorned in the team’s bright blue flags, with several soccer scarves also draped from the railing. The picture was taken after Napoli won its final match of the Serie A season and brought home its first league championship in 33 years.

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La Porta was previously convicted in absentia of financial crimes, according to police, who identified the fugitive as a “white collar” member of the Contini clan, connected to the Camorra syndicate in Naples. They finally spotted La Porta in the photograph thanks to officers’ “web patrols” of social media, alerting them to his location in Greece.

According to Greek police, officers made the arrest in Corfu after prosecutors in Naples issued a European warrant for La Porta.

“After a long series of investigations and tailings, carried out with the precious collaboration of the Greek police forces, the Carabinieri blocked him on the street while he was riding his scooter,” Italian police said, adding that La Porta could face up to 14 years and four months in prison if extradited.

In a telephone interview Sunday, La Porta’s lawyer confirmed that his client is in police detention in Corfu, with court proceedings scheduled for Monday. “He has many ailments. I hope for the best tomorrow. For the family,” Athanasios Giannakouris said, noting that his client now lives on the island with his Albanian wife and a 9-year-old child.

In the late 1940s, Camorra criminal clans flourished in the black market that emerged in Naples after World War II, securing control of the city’s shipbuilding industry, port infrastructure and banks — with bosses frequently buying off local politicians. A crackdown in the 1990s led to the arrest of many of Camorra’s bosses, hobbling the syndicate. Last year, the Italian police announced the arrests of dozens of the clan’s members in the latest push against organized crime in Italy’s Campania region.



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