The 72-year-old man was arrested in the capital Zagreb on Monday December 31 on a European arrest warrant issued by Italy, where he is to serve a 10-year jail term, an interior ministry statement said.
The man was convicted as a “member of a criminal organisation and … for trafficking of larger quantities of heroine and cocaine.”
State-run HRT television identified the man arrested as Claudio D'Este, formerly a member of the powerful Venice-based Mala del Brenta mafia group.
D'Este was reportedly arrested as he was coming out of his home in the Croatian capital Zagreb with his family on December 31, reports Italian news agency Ansa.
He was reportedly linked to a Venetian mafia gang run by a man by the name of Felice Maniero in the 1980s and 1990s which imported hard drugs, cocaine and heroine, to the northeast of Italy.
D'Este was arrested in the 1970s and mid 1990s, but fled Italy after serving two years of a sentence between 1997 and 1999, reports local daily La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre.
He lived in Zagreb for more than a decade, HRT reported.