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Police file photos of Maria Licciardi from 20 years ago. She was released from prison in 2009 after serving time for mafia-connected crimes. Photograph: Ciro Fusco/EPA

Maria Licciardi: The ‘godmother’ of mafia arrested while trying to board flight from Rome to Spain

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Maria Licciardi, 70, was arrested at Rome’s Ciampino Airport while trying to fly to Spain, prosecutors said. She was previously among Italy’s top 30 wanted fugitives and was nicknamed “a piccirella” (“a little one”) by mobsters, for her petite build.

Maria Licciardi, 70, was detained at Rome’s Ciampino Airport as she checked in her luggage on Saturday morning.

Investigators claim Licciardi, from Naples, ran extortion rackets as head of the Licciardi Camorra crime syndicate clan.

Naples prosecutors previously described her as a true “madrina”, or “godmother”, of the group.

Carabinieri police officers said Licciardi “didn’t bat an eyelash” as they carried out the arrest on orders of Naples prosecutors.

According to the agency, she is also accused of mafia-type association, extortion, and receiving stolen money.

Interior minister Luciana Lamorgese praised the arrest, saying it demonstrated “the commitment and determination” of police to “counteract the Camorra organisations that widely control large territories and manage illicit affairs”.

Licciardi was first arrested back in 2001 after she was stopped as she drove a car near Naples.

Back then, she was placed among Italy’s top 30 wanted fugitives.

She was convicted of Mafia-connected crimes and was released from prison in 2009.

Licciardi was given the nickname “‘a piccirella” – “a little one” – by mobsters, for her petite build.

Prosecutors say she was one of the victors in a long-running blood feud between alliances of clans that left Naples littered nearly daily with bodies earlier this century.

They claim her brother, Gennaro Licciardi, was a boss of the syndicate and she made decisions for the crime family along with other crime bosses.

Traditional sources of illicit revenue for the syndicate include the extortion of local business owners, drug trafficking, and the infiltration of public works contracts.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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