At the time of his arrest, Raccuglia tried to escape from a balcony in the apartment where he was hiding, but police had surrounded the building and caught him.

He had been convicted of five murders, including the kidnapping and killing of a rival's son, whose body was thrown into a vat of acid. Raccuglia faces several life sentences. 

Senior figure

Alessio Altichieri, of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, told Al Jazeera: He's a bloody man so it gives a sense that even terrible people can be caught.

"We have seen a lot of arrests in Naples, now we are talking about the Mafia. I don’t know if there is a strategy, but certainly they’re having good results.

It's not just the criminal activity, it's an attitude to the population, so it will take time."

Roberto Maroni, Italy's interior minister, described the arrest as delivering "one of the hardest blows against Mafia organisations in recent years, because Raccuglia was in fact the Cosa Nostra's number two".

Earlier this month, Maroni said authorities had arrested more than 3,600 Mafia members in the past 18 months, including 15 on the list of the 30 most dangerous fugitives.

The highest Cosa Nostra fugitive on the island is considered to be Matteo Messina Denaro, who investigators believe also has his power base in western
Sicily.