ROME – Italian and German police on Tuesday arrested four accused members of a Mafia clan believed linked to the killings of six Italians in Germany earlier this year.
Two suspects were arrested in Italy and two in Germany, Italian officials said. However, the main suspect in the slayings eluded capture, police said.
Six men ranging in age from 16 to 38 were shot dead in August after a party at an Italian restaurant in Duisburg in western Germany.
The slayings were believed to be part of a long-running feud between two criminal family clans from Italy's Calabria region, home to the 'ndrangheta syndicate.
The four suspects were believed to be members of one of the feuding families, but not directly involved in the shooting, according to Italy's ANSA news agency.
Two suspects were apprehended before dawn in San Luca, the small town where rival clans of the 'ndrangheta, the local version of the Sicilian Mafia, are based. Charges against the suspect include Mafia association, murder and arms trafficking, police in the regional capital of Reggio Calabria said.
The other two were picked up in North-Rhine Westphalia, the German state where Duisburg is located, police spokesman Achim Blaettermann said. The suspects were picked up on a tip by Italian police, he said in Germany.
A fifth suspect, 28-year-old Giovanni Strangio, has been a fugitive for months, with warrants for his arrest in Italy and Germany.
Strangio is believed to have pulled the trigger in the August shooting. He has already served time in jail, and was last released in July, according to ANSA.
In the weeks after the killings, Italian police arrested more than 30 alleged members of the rival clans.
Italian investigators have long said the 'ndrangheta had been gaining power among crime syndicates, gaining recognition as an international force with the German killings.
During the probe into the shooting, Germany emerged as a major destination of the 'ndrangheta's illicit activities and investment abroad, officials said Tuesday.
"The 'ndrangheta is no longer a local reality or regional criminal reality, but it is a European problem," said anti-Mafia Prosecutor Salvatore Boemi in Reggio Calabria.