Ecuador has arrested an alleged Italian mafia member who held a legitimate work visa in the country but was wanted on criminal charges in Italy, highlighting how the country's lax entry requirements are attracting foreign organized crime.
Ecuadorean police and agents from international police body Interpol arrested Valentino Alampi in the port city of Guayaquil on November 14, reported Hoy. Alampi is allegedly the brother and business partner of the leader of criminal organization Cosca Alampi, based in the Calabria region of southern Italy. He was wanted by Interpol for evading a four and a half year prison sentence in Italy for mafia ties, and a warrant for his extradition was issued in Ecuador in May.
At the time of his arrest, Alampi held an Ecuadorean work visa as executive director of the company Jampoli S.A., which is under investigation for money laundering, reported El Comercio. He has been transferred to Quito to await extradition to Italy.
InSight Crime Analysis
Ecuador has among the most lax immigration requirements in the world, allowing citizens of almost any country in the world to enter for 90 days without a visa -- while this case suggests getting hold of one is not much of a challenge either. This ease of entry has made it an attractive destination for foreign criminals, especially combined with its dollar currency and its location between two of the world's major cocaine producing nations. Various Colombian groups have set up shop in the country, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Rastrojos, and most recently, the Urabeños. Chinese triads have taken advantage of the lack of visa regulations to increase human trafficking through the country, and Italian, Ukranian and Albanian groups have also been identified as working in Ecuador by the US Drug Enforcement Administration: a "United Nations" of drug traffickers, Andean director Jay Bergman told Reuters in 2011.
The Cosca Alampi, which is involved in extortion and controls city waste contracts in Calabria, is linked to the famous 'Ndrangheta mafia that operates in the region, according to Prensa Latina. The 'Ndrangheta, which is estimated to control 80 percent of European cocaine distribution, is known to be present in Colombia, where an Italian cocaine broker with links going back to the Medellin Cartel was arrested in July, and four important Italian drug traffickers were arrested this spring. It has also worked with Mexico's Zetas
SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime