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Lady don Female mafia boss known as 'The Godmother' arrested as she tries to board plane in Rome

Maria Licciardi is known as 'la piccoletta', or the little one, due to her small stature

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Licciardi is known as 'la piccoletta', or the little one, due to her small stature.

Licciardi is known as 'la piccoletta', or the little one, due to her small stature.

Licciardi is known as 'la piccoletta', or the little one, due to her small stature.

An alleged female mafia boss known as ‘The Godmother’ has been arrested at Ciampino Airport in Rome as she attempted to board a flight to Malaga in southern Spain. 

Described by police as “practical, charming and exceptionally intelligent” but also as ruthless as her male equivalents, Maria Licciardi (70) is said to be part of the notorious Neapolitan mafia known as the Camorra.

She was on her way to visit her daughter and to “attend to some business”, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Known as 'la piccoletta' or the little one due to her small stature, Ms Licciardi and two associates were stopped by the Carabineros Corps, Italy's military police, as they were queueing at the check-in desk.

The woman accused of mafia-type association, extortion, receiving ill-gotten funds and auction rigging, went quietly with the officers, it has been reported.

Prosecutors allege that Ms Licciardi who previously spent eight years in prison before being released in December 2009, is the boss of the Licciardi clan.

The gang that was founded by her brother Gennaro, aka La Scimmia (the monkey), in 1994, is said to be most active in Secondigliano, a Naples neighbourhood, which is believed to be key to the drug trade.

When her brother died, Ms Licciardi is believed to have taken over the family clan and alongside an informal coalition of 20 other Camorra groups, took control of Naples' most lucrative rackets, including drugs, cigarette smuggling, protection and more.

The alliance fell apart in the year 2000 when a bitter and deadly feud with a rival family that out on the streets of Naples led to more than 50 killings.

Before being sent to prison, Ms Licciardi is alleged to have broken the organisation's code by adding prostitution to the Camorra's business empire.

According to reports, the clan would buy women, many of them underage, from the Albanian mafia.

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Ms Licciardi has always shunned the limelight and has been described as charismatic but is accused of mafia-type association, extortion, receiving ill-gotten funds and auction rigging.

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