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DRUG SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN ITALY AFTER LONG SEARCH

Three Sicilian brothers who police say were kingpins in the Mafia's international drug trafficking and money laundering operations were expelled from Venezuela and arrested in Italy Saturday.

Pasquale, Paolo and Gaspare Cuntrera evaded capture for nearly 10 years before the Italian police, Interpol agents and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tracked them down in South America.Venezuela expelled them for "security reasons" at the request of Italian investigators so the brothers could be arrested on Italian soil, police said.

The brothers, who have Venezuelan and Canadian citizenship, have been accused of recycling hundreds of millions of dollars in Mafia money over the years.

Investigators allege that between 1980 and 1984 alone the brothers had laundered some $70 million in Mafia money for crime organizations in Italy as well as North and South America.

One of the brothers, Pasquale, was the subject of international arrest warrants issued in 1985 by judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Falcone and Borsellino were killed by Mafia car bombs in the Sicilian capital of Palermo this year.