Colombia deports drug supremo back to Italy

Colombia on Saturday deported accused drug mafioso Roberto Pannunzi, reputed to be the world's biggest cocaine trafficker, back to his native Italy for prosecution, police in Bogota said.

"He was deported at 10 pm local time Friday (0300 GMT Saturday) and should arrive in Italy at around 8 pm," a police source said. The plane carrying Pannunzi is expected to land at Rome's Fiumicino airport.

Pannunzi, 65, was arrested Friday in a Colombian shopping mall, prosecutors said. He had been on the run since fleeing a Rome prison in 2010.

The Italian, detained in Bogota using a fake Venezuelan identity card, was apprehended during a joint operation by Colombian police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

"He is the biggest cocaine importer in the world," said Nicola Gratteri, deputy chief prosecutor in Reggio Calabria in southern Italy.

"He is the only one who can organize purchases and sales of cocaine shipments of 3,000 kilos (6,600 pounds) and up," Gratteri told reporters.