SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A longtime California resident from Italy, who is wanted in his native country for drug trafficking and colluding with the Mafia, was turned over to Italian authorities Wednesday at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport by Sacramento-based officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Vincenzo Coluccio, 65, was transported from Sacramento to Italy on board commercial aircraft escorted by ERO officers. Upon arriving in Rome, Coluccio was transferred to the custody of Italian authorities. Coluccio is charged in a warrant issued by judicial officials in Milan with conspiring with the Mafia and drug smuggling. The allegations carry a prison term of 12 years.
Italian authorities allege Coluccio is a prominent member of the Mazzaferro crime family, which operates in the country’s Calabria region and has longstanding links to international drug trafficking. Through Interpol, Italian officials sought assistance from the U.S. to facilitate Coluccio’s repatriation to Italy so he could face the pending charges.
In March, Sacramento ERO officers arrested Coluccio at Folsom State Prison where he was serving a sentence following a 2012 conviction in California Superior Court for felony drug charges and a weapons violation. On July 15, an immigration judge, noting Coluccio’s prior felony convictions, ordered him removed from the U.S., paving the way for this week’s deportation.
Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Coluccio originally entered the U.S. in the late 1960s on a visitor’s visa, but he became a legal permanent resident soon after through marriage. In 2010, he was arrested by Los Angeles-based agents with Drug Enforcement Administration for possession and sale of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. He was also charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
“This repatriation should serve as a stern reminder to non-citizen, career criminals that they will find no refuge here,” said John Martinez, acting field office director for ERO San Francisco. “Once again ICE’s close collaboration with its international law enforcement counterparts has led to a foreign fugitive being returned to face justice and the citizens of both nations are safer for our efforts.”
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 720 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.