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Sewer escape throws mafia police off scent

  • Story Highlights
  • Italian mafia suspect may have escaped through the sewer pipes, reports say.
  • Setola is allegedly head of killing team run by the powerful Casalesi clan
  • Tunnel found connecting to sewer system in the nearby town of Caserta
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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- The suspected head of an Italian mafia murder squad eluded police for a third time, and may have escaped through the sewer pipes, according to Italian media reports.

Italian police examine a sewer that may have offered an escape route for a suspected mafia boss.

Italian police examine a sewer that may have offered an escape route for a suspected mafia boss.

Giuseppe Setola, 38, is believed to have slipped into a tunnel built under his hideout near Naples, Italy on Monday, as police closed in on him, according to Italy's state-run ANSA news agency and reports in the La Repubblica and Corriere Della Sera newspapers.

That tunnel connects to the sewer system in the nearby town of Caserta, north of Naples. Corriere published photos of anti-mafia police searching through what was described as Setola's trash-strewn bunker and the tunnel.

Anti-mafia police have been searching for Setola for months, and have already arrested his wife and two suspected members of his crew, according to the reports. Monday was the third time he avoided arrest.

Setola is allegedly the head of a killing team run by the powerful Casalesi clan which belongs to the Neapolitan mafia known as Camorra. He got out of jail last spring after a doctor ruled that he was legally blind. Prosecutors have opened an investigation into that ruling.

The Casalesi clan is featured in the best-selling book "Gomorrah" -- a play on the word "Camorra" -- written by Roberto Saviano who now lives under constant police protection. Saviano recently said he may have to leave Italy to escape constant death threats from the mafia and its supporters.

Police began cracking down on Setola and his colleagues after the murder of six West African immigrants in the nearby town of Castel Volturno in September. After those killings, the Italian government activated the army to help bolster efforts against the Casalesi clan, which is believed to have killed more than 20 people since May.

The two suspected members of his squad have given police information about his movements.

In November, police arrested an Italian police officer suspected of informing Setola about police operations.

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