Mafia figure extradited from Thailand to Italy

Financer convicted of high-level mob associations

(ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - Fugitive financier Vito Roberto Palazzolo has been extradited from Thailand and expected to arrive in Milan's international airport Thursday, police said. Palazzolo was convicted of being a money launderer for the Mafia and allegedly "cleaned" millions of euros from drug trafficking and other crimes. Palazzolo had been arrested in March 2012 by Thai immigration officials at the Bangkok International Airport as he was preparing to leave the country. He had been sentenced in 2006 in Italy to nine years in prison for mafia association after laundering money for infamous mobsters including former Cosa Nostra chiefs Salvatore 'Toto' Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who are now in prison. His conviction followed the so-called Pizza Connection investigation, which exposed a heroin and cocaine smuggling operation worth around 1.5 billion euros that used New York pizzerias as fronts from 1975 to 1984. Since he left Italy, the mafia financier had also lived in South Africa, where he had set up a financial business and acquired citizenship. Palazzolo has denied the charges against him.