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Alleged Italian Mobster Arrested

January 10, 2001

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ An alleged Mafia kingpin suspected of running a vast cigarette smuggling network in the Balkans was arrested Wednesday.

Albino Prudentino, 50, was taken into custody after a police raid on a house in the seaside resort of Aghios Vasilios, near the southern port city of Patra.

Police said Prudentino was the head of the ``Sacra Corona Unita″ organization, which had an annual turnover of $818 million from cigarette smuggling.

``He is considered one of the largest cigarette smugglers in Greece and Italy,″ Athens Security Police Chief Giorgos Aggelakos said.

Prudentino, who is Italian, faces formal charges on an international arrest warrant Thursday. A court later will examine an extradition request from Italy.

Police are were investigating his possible connection with another alleged cigarette smuggler, Saveiro Benvenuto, who was killed by gunmen last August in a seaside town southeast of Athens.

Wednesday’s arrest is the second involving smuggling charges in three weeks.

Alleged Italian mobster Francesco Prudentino, 52, was arrested Dec. 22 in the northern port of Thessaloniki. He also is accused of running a giant cigarette smuggling network in the Balkans. The two men were not believed to be related.

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