Portimão’s PJ police are celebrating a major arrest this week of Italian Francesco di Marte, suspected of being “an important member of the Calabrian Mafia Ndrangheta” and sought in connection with the so-called ‘honour killings’ of three women in Genova in 1994.
Now awaiting extradition in custody, 52-year-old di Marte was arrested in the Algarve following an operation into cocaine trafficking from South America to Europe that involved police from “several countries”, reports Correio da Manhã.
He appears to have been “hiding out in the Algarve” since a drug bust in 2015 – living under an assumed name in a Portimão urbanisation, in the company of a Brazilian woman.
A native of Calabria, di Marte is described as a right-hand man of the Pesce family, “one of the most powerful clans of the Ndrangheta” (Wikipedia), whose activities “range from drug trafficking, extortion and the control of nearly all commercial businesses in the Gioia Tauro plain”.
“Among the crimes” for which he is a suspect is the murder of three women, due to an alleged ‘infidelity’ of one.
As CM explains, the Mafia has a strict code that conditions wives beyond their husbands’ deaths.
In this case, a Mafia widow was suspected of being involved with another man.
Di Marte and another man are understood to have shot her, her mother and a female cousin, “to give an example” to other Mafia widows.
Says CM, there have been “around 20 murders of women in Italy’s Calabria region related to these (Mafia) rules”.
The paper explains that when agents from Portimão’s criminal investigation unit approached di Marte, he presented them with false documents “but was detained because he had been identified in an international investigation on drug trafficking”.
He is believed to have been one of the kingpins in an operation routed last year, in which the PJ became involved when they collaborated with Spanish police in the apprehension of 856 kg of cocaine “belonging to the network”.
In all, around €5 million-worth of cocaine, or “around four tons, was thought to have been trafficked from South America to Europe between the years of 2013-2015, adds CM, some of it coming from ‘connections with Colombian revolutionary armed forces FARC’.
Di Marte was presented before judges in Évora who have “ordered his prevention in custody awaiting extradition”, presumably to Italy.