A “violent and dangerous” mafia boss has been told he will spend at least 10 years in an Australian jail and likely face deportation back to Italy after he was betrayed by a childhood friend.
Notorious gangland kingpin Rocco Arico has been sentenced to 14 years after being found guilty of drugs, weapons and extortion charges at a Melbourne court.
The 38-year-old, an Italian national who moved to Australia when he was just nine months old, is thought to have been a senior member of the Calabrian cartel who established control over the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.
With family links to the feared ‘Ndrangheta global mafia syndicate, Arico posed as a successful property developer while playing a significant role in Melbourne’s underworld economy as a major league drug trafficker.
Arico came undone after former childhood friend and fellow drug peddler Arthur Vouthas turned super grass when the feared underworld boss threatened him and his family over a botched cocaine deal.
Passing sentence at Victoria County Court, Judge Geoffrey Chettle told Arico: “You were a complete outlaw. You saw Brunswick as your personal fiefdom. You controlled real estate agents, bankers and building contractors. You were an experienced criminal with a serious violent history.”
Vouthas will now have to spend his remaining days living in fear of reprisals, Judge Chettle said.
“I realise I’ll spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder,” he stated in a victim impact statement. ”I blame myself for this.”
A spokesperson for Victoria Police’s Purana anti-gangland taskforce commented: “This is a significant outcome for Victoria Police. It is a great result following a complex and protracted organised crime investigation. It is also a great outcome for the community of Victoria.”
Arico has a string of previous convictions, and has already spent more than seven years in prison after being found guilty of charges including kidnapping and attempted murder. He is also thought to have been behind the prison slaying of drug dealer turned state witness Carl Williams in 2010.
Originating in southern Italy, the ‘Ndràngheta mafia cartel is thought to operate all over the world, with interests in countries spanning the globe from Canada to Australia. While not as well-known as the Sicilian mafia, the group is considered one of the most powerful criminal organisations on the planet.
In 2014, a study from the Demoskopika research institute in Rome estimated that the group made more money than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank combined in 2013, pulling in €54 billion.
The ‘Ndràngheta is said to have interests in 30 countries globally, where its activities are estimated to involve some 60,000 people, including around 400 key operatives.