Huffpost WorldPost

Gianni Nicchi, Mafia's Number 2, Nabbed In Sicily

Posted: Updated:

ROME — Police captured Cosa Nostra's No. 2 in a raid in Sicily and nabbed another Mafia fugitive strolling down a Milan street Saturday, as authorities crossed more names off the nation's most wanted list, Italy's interior minister said.

Convicted Mafioso Gianni Nicchi, captured in the Sicilian city of Palermo, is a "young, dangerous, ambitious, pitiless killer," Minister Roberto Maroni said. Police found Nicchi, 28, hiding in an apartment in Palermo. News reports say he tried to flee.

Investigators say Nicchi quickly climbed to the top of Palermo-based crime families after the arrest a few years ago of mob boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo. Nicchi, a fugitive since 2006, was convicted last year of extortion and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The bugged conversations of bosses convinced police Nicchi was one of the Mafia's top new bosses, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Also on Saturday, authorities in Milan arrested Gaetano Fidanzati, 74, as he strolled down a street in the heart of Italy's financial capital, said police official Alessandro Giuliano. Fidanzati is a reputed longtime Cosa Nostra boss of a Palermo crime clan and has been a fugitive for two years, investigators said.

With the latest arrests, police have captured 17 of the fugitives on Italy's 30-most wanted list in a span of few months, Maroni said.

At the top of the list is Matteo Messina Denaro, described by investigators as Cosa Nostra's top boss. Denaro, from a power base in Trapani, western Sicily, is believed to have quickly climbed to the top of the island's Mafia hierarchy after the 2007 arrest in the Corleone countryside of Bernardo Provenzano after decades on the run.