An insight into the meagre life mafia mobsters are forced into despite the multi-billion criminal earnings of their organisations was provided by Italian authorities that unearthed an underground safe house allegedly used by a fugitive boss.
The bare bunker was found by Carabinieri police, hidden underneath a rural warehouse for cheese, salami and other agro-pastoral products in the southern Calabria region.
The 10 square meter room was allegedly used as a refuge by Antonio Pelle, a fugitive boss with the local 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate, Europe's biggest drug cartel, as well as a weapons depot.
The shelter, located inside a building putatively owned by a 74-year-old widow in the village of Bovalino, near Locri, was raided by Carabinieri during a large search operation to apprehend the boss also known as "La Mamma" (The Mom).
A concrete block on rails that could be moved thanks to an electrical device worked as entrance to the room. Inside security forces found only a religious icon from the nearby Madonna di Polsi sanctuary revered by the local Mafiosi, who are almost unanimously self-professed Christian devotees.
A gun silencer, bullets and small quantities of drugs were found in neighbouring buildings. The bunker was the third discovered by investigators in the Locri area in recent months. In January they found a more luxurious 600 square meter hiding place, including a large living area and a marijuana greenhouse.
Pelle, 52, is considered the boss of the "Pelle – Vottari" 'Ndrangheta clan, infamously involved in the so called "San Luca feud" with the rival Nirta-Strangio family.
The turf war between the two gangs made international headlines in 2007, as violence spilled over to Germany with mafia gunmen shooting six people dead outside a restaurant Duisburg, in what investigators said was a vendetta killing against affiliates of the Pelle group.
Pelle was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in jail on a series of charges including mafia and drug trafficking. However, he escaped detention three years later, exploiting a brief hospital stay and is currently sought by authorities.