Syrian group claims capture of Italian drug trafficker

ROME (AP) — A Syrian group is claiming to have captured one of Europe’s most-wanted drug traffickers back in March, just days after Italy’s justice minister thanked the United Arab Emirates for its role in his arrest and extradition to Italy this week.

The circumstances surrounding the arrest of Bruno Carbone, who is tied to the Camorra crime syndicate based in Naples, remained unclear. Carbone, 45, has been a fugitive since his 2003 conviction in absentia for drug trafficking and participation in a criminal organization. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Europol identified him as the contact person to procure large quantities of cocaine for the Camorra, mainly from Spain, and said he was active in two criminal organizations involved in drug-trafficking.

Italian Justice Minister Carlo Nordio on Tuesday issued a statement thanking his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates for his role in the arrest. Carbone arrived in Italy that day.

The sequence of events was clouded by a video announcement Wednesday by a Syrian group linked to a jihadist organization claiming that Carbone was captured in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib and then “handed over to his country of origin.”

The so-called Syrian Salvation Government of the Al Qaeda-linked group Hayat Tharir al-Sham that runs the day-to-day affairs in Idlib, claimed they arrested Carbone in March while he was attempting to cross into Syrian government-controlled area.

After “gathering of evidence and information, we started to work on the process of handing him over to the government of his origin country,” the official said.

Italian Finance Police Lt. Col. Danilo Toma, head of the special investigation group against criminal organizations in Naples, confirmed Carbone’s arrival from Dubai, and that he was immediately taken into custody in Rome and placed under arrest. He declined to provide further details.

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