An Italian mafia boss who had been on the run for 15 years has been arrested in Spain.

Spanish police said they arrested infamous mafioso Fausto Pellegrinetti on Sunday afternoon (21 January) at a luxury penthouse hideout in the beachside town of Alicante.

Pellegrinetti is believed to be placed high up in Rome's mafia hierarchy and was accused of drug trafficking and money laundering. He has since been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The charges against him included trafficking more than 550 kilogrammes of cocaine under the mafia ring 'La Magliana.'

He is also thought to have had close ties with other prominent mafioso clans, including the Marsigliesi, Berenguer, Bellicini and Bergamelliu.

Pellegrinetti had been on the run since 1993 when he escaped from house arrest in Rome and became the prime suspect in a joint investigation by Italian and Spanish police into the mafia ring. He had been living under false identity in Alicante for several years.

"Fausto Pellegrinetti is a person who represents 50/60 years of criminal history of Rome. He is the first Roman criminal that was declared wanted," stated police spokesperson Luigi Silipo during a press conference on Sunday.

Police recently arrested 160 people in a series of anti-mafia raids in the southern city of Ciro, in Italy's Calabria region, which marked the biggest crackdown on organised crime in two decades.

Those held included two mayors and a provincial president who have been accused of appointing mob-approved officials to public office.