A three-year-old boy has become the sad victim of a mafia hit after his grandfather failed to pay off his debts, it was alleged.
The toddler was murdered and then left his body burnt in a car at the back of an abandoned farmhouse in Cassano allo Ionio, the Daily Mail reported.
The bodies of the grandfather, 52-year-old Salvatore Iannicelli, and girlfriend Ibtissa Touss, 27, were also found in the wreckage.
The boy, Nicola Campolongo, is believed to be one of many such young victims who fall prey to the vengeance of the mafia.
Investigators believe that the mob targeted Iannicelli's and his grandson because he had not paid off a drug debt.
A 50 cent coin was left on the roof of the burnt out car, a symbol authorities believe denotes the three were killed over an unpaid debt.
The killings were a stark reminder that the belief the mafia doesn't hurt women or children was not true.
Italy's investigating prosecutor Franco Giacomantonio said: "Every line has now been crossed.
"How can anyone kill a three-year-old boy in this way? In many years of work, I think this will be the most brutal murder that it has been my duty to investigate."
Iannicelli was taking care of Nicola as his parents were in both in jail as part of a crackdown on the mafia trafficking hallucinogenic drugs.