Mafia 'Hit' on 3-Year-Old Rattles Italy

'Coco' Campolongo was gunned down with his grandfather

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2014 4:29 PM CST

(Newser) – Little Nicola "Coco" Campolongo has become the latest focal point in Italy for anger against the mafia. As the Daily Beast explains, the toddler was executed along with his grandfather and his grandfather's companion over an apparent drug debt. The killers shot all three in the head, and their bodies were found in a burnt-out car. Police say a 50-cent coin left on the roof is the telltale sign that the executions were carried out over a drug debt. But a 3-year-old? "How could anyone kill a tiny creature of just three years in this way?” said a prosecutor on the case. “It is unheard of. It is beyond horrendous.”

Pope Francis—hardly revered by organized crime—has weighed in and called on the killers to repent, reports Reuters. "This violence against such a small child seems without precedent in the history of crime," he said. Indeed, Coco is believed to be the youngest victim of a direct mafia hit, writes the Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau. The child's parents are in jail on drug charges, and the case is drawing increased attention to kids in southern Italy who grow up in neighborhoods run by crime syndicates.

File photo of a police car in Italy.
File photo of a police car in Italy.   (Shutterstock)
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