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Veteran mobster Gambino acquitted of drug trafficking

'Pizza connection' kingpin served 22 years in the US

03 February, 16:04
Veteran mobster Gambino acquitted of drug trafficking (ANSA) - Palermo, February 3 - An Italian appeals court on Monday acquitted veteran Italian-American Mafia boss Rosario Gambino of drug trafficking charges, overturning a 20-year sentence imposed by a trial court.

Gambino, 70, cousin of well-known late New York kingpin Carlo Gambino and a member of one of New York's five Cosa Nostra families, was extradited to Rome in 2009 after a long judicial wrangle.

Italy sought to extradite Gambino 12 times between 2001 and early 2009 before he was finally flown to Rome on May 23, 2009.

In 2001 Gambino was convicted in absentia for drug trafficking between the US and Italy. The original arrest warrant for Gambino was issued by slain crusading Italian anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone.

It resulted in a 20-year jail term, later reduced to 16 on appeal.

Gambino has already served 22 years in jail in the United States for heroin trafficking in the landmark 1980s 'Pizza Connection' case.

According to court papers, Gambino and his two brothers were key members of the organisation that moved more than $1.6 billion of heroin into the States through pizza parlors from 1975 to 1984.

The resulting trial, which ran from October 1985 to March 1987, was one of the biggest in US history.

Gambino was also linked to the late Michele Sindona, an international banker and Mob money launderer poisoned in jail in 1986 while serving life for the 1979 murder of lawyer Giorgio Ambrosoli, liquidator of Sindona's banking empire.

Gambino is believed to have helped Sindona stage a bogus kidnapping that served as cover for last-ditch attempts to recover Mob money and call in political favours.

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