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Three Italians arrested in Malindi over drug trafficking arrive in Italy after deportation

Mario Mele at the police headquarters in Mombasa last Friday. [Photo:Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Three Italians who were arrested in Malindi over drug trafficking claims have been deported to Italy.

The three identified as Mario Mele, Alberto Fulvio and Stefano Poli who have been on Interpol’s Red Notice arrived in Italy on Wednesday and were taken to custody by local authorities.

They had been driven to Nairobi and handed over to the Italian embassy that organized their deportation.

The three were among twelve suspects arrested in Mombasa during a joint security operation last week where, two pistols and 25 9mm bullets and two vehicles were seized.

Some 11,220 Euros, $4,500, Sh952,935 in notes and coins, seven three kilogrammes packets of a substance believed to be heroin, 136 sachets also believed to be of heroin, fake $36,100 and fake Sh516,000 notes were recovered in the operation.

Their lawyers had moved to court to stop the deportation. Officials aware of the operation said the three were hauled onto a plane on Tuesday night at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

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Police said the three had been on notice for their involvement in various forms of organised crime and pending cases in their country.

Officials say Mr Filvio, 68, has been on the run from 1993 when he was convicted by an Italian court for drug related charges.

In 2009, he renounced his Italian citizenship and opted for naturalization as a Kenyan citizen, police said.

According to a circular posted in 2016 by Interpol said the suspect had on May 17 1983 bought and kept, either to give or sell to third persons 283.31g of drugs of which 67.99g were of pure heroin.

Mele, 56, who was born in Nuoro, Italy, arrived in Kenya in 2012, leaving behind a trial where he was being charged with tax evasion and fraudulent bankruptcy amounting to €17 million, police reports said.

Mr Mele had invested in Malindi running Patapata Beach Club in Malindi, the Mario’s Restaurant near Nakumatt Malindi and Mario’s Buddha Fashion Lounge.

Police say he with other people promoted and organised the criminal association, setting up and running companies that were involved in criminal activities. They include Edo Group, The Magic group, Hotel Della Spiaggia, Vacanze Azure, La Fenice Engineering and Herescafe’ Sas, among others.

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He is also wanted over tax related cases.

Poli, 70, from Gomo, Italy, arrived in Kenya in 2016, after escaping a 10-year and nine months’ sentence over fiscal fraud and fraudulent bankruptcy, police say.

He has since then been living a secretive life between Malindi and Mombasa.

According to Interpol, he was the administrator of the society Cos Edil srl and was declared bankrupt by a Milan court and was to serve four years in prison.

Poli was accused of destroying and removing books and records of the society to cause prejudice to the creditors for millions of pounds in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The deportation follows a series of others targeting illegal immigrants in the past four years. Most of them were accused of being drug dealers.

The deportation started in June 2013 when President Uhuru Kenyatta announced he would not allow Kenya to be used as a hiding place for criminals. Since then, dozens of West Africans and other nationalities have been deported after being accused of being criminals and drug dealers.

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