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CRIME

Italy’s ‘Godmother’ mafia boss arrested at Rome airport

A top female mafia boss in Naples, Maria Licciardi, was arrested Saturday while attempting to fly to Spain, Italian media reports said.

Italy's 'Godmother' mafia boss arrested at Rome airport
A car of Italian carabinieri patrols Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples where arrested mafia boss Maria Licciardi is from. AFP PHOTO / MARIO LAPORTA

The 70-year-old, known as “la piccoletta” or the little one because of her small stature, is the sister of the late Gennaro Licciardi, founder of the family Camorra clan based in the suburbs of Scampia and Secondigliano.

She had served eight years in prison previously, being released in December 2009, according to media reports, after which she is alleged to have taken over the clan’s operations.

Two different undated photographs show top female camorra (Neapolitan mafia) boss Maria Licciardi with dark hair (L) and right with blonde hair. Photo: picture-alliance / dpa/dpaweb | Ciro_Fusco

She was arrested at Rome’s Ciampino airport while dropping off her bags ahead of a flight to Spain, where her daughter lives, news agencies reported.

She is accused of mafia-type association, extortion, receiving ill-gotten funds and auction-rigging.

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CRIME

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.

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