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A MAFIA cocaine trafficker on the run from Italian authorities is leading the life of a swindler on the Gold Coast.

Nicola Ciconte, who faces being deported to spend 25 years in jail over a half-tonne cocaine importation into Australia, has left a trail of debts and business failures since he moved to the Coast six years ago.

Despite a looming extradition bid, Ciconte, 57, appeared relaxed while enjoying a smoke and a drink with friends this month at his regular watering hole, the Woodchoppers Inn at Mudgeeraba.

“I’ve got nothing to say to you,” he told The Courier-Mail.

The former finance broker was sentenced in May in his absence by an Italian court, which found he was the Australian point man in a plan to smuggle up to 500kg of cocaine via Italy into Melbourne between 2002 and 2004.

Italian police recorded his meetings and phone calls with Mafia boss Vincenzo Barbieri, who was jailed over the plot then slain by gunmen last year, but key evidence could not be used to prosecute Ciconte in Australia.

Italian prosecutors said last month that Ciconte, who had family connections to the notorious Calabrian mafia, was “extremely dangerous”. read rest on