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"Mafia member" arrested in German cocaine probe


German authorities say they have arrested a member of an Italian organised crime group following an investigation into a cocaine-smuggling racket.

The 40-year-old Italian man was arrested on December 23 in Gelsenkirchen as he left his hiding place, investigators in North Rhine-Westphalia state said.

He was a member of the Sacra Corona Unita group, based in south-eastern Italy, and will soon be extradited to Italy, the investigators added.

The arrest followed an investigation by police in the Italian town of Francavilla Fontana into a group accused of smuggling cocaine and weapons.

German authorities said the group sent several shipments of cocaine from the Netherlands to Germany, from where they were driven to Italy. Italian authorities made arrests in October and November.