Italy seizes cocaine worth $1.3bn

2015-06-17 21:05

(File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - Italian police have seized more than four tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.13bn and arrested dozens of people suspected of running a huge Mafia drug trafficking ring, a police official said on Wednesday.

A court in Reggio Calabria - a city on the toe of the Italian boot - had issued an arrest warrant for 34 people, including high-ranking members of several Calabrian Mafia clans, for international drug trafficking, a statement said.

All but two have been arrested, finance police Colonel Mario Palumbo told Reuters. Spanish officials were seeking four people as part of the same investigation. Italy's finance police, which has jurisdiction at ports and borders, led the investigation.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided intelligence on suppliers and shipments from South America.

"The investigation by the DEA in South America identified several suppliers who were protected by commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)," a statement said, referring to leftist guerrillas in a long-time conflict with Colombia's central government.

Over the course of 18 months, more than four tons of cocaine were seized, of which three tons were found in Italian ports, Palumbo said. Rival Mafia clans had joined together to import large amounts of the drug at wholesale prices.

"They used mainly banks in offshore tax havens to pay for the drugs," he said, to throw investigators off the money trail.

The cocaine was put in large duffel bags and hidden inside shipping containers, and the mobsters relied on employees of various ports - especially the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro - to collect it, Palumbo said.

The Calabrian Mafia's role as one of Europe's biggest cocaine importers has made it the most powerful economic force in its impoverished home region in southern Italy, according to a report by Italian anti-Mafia prosecutors earlier this year.

The bustling narcotics business has propelled the Calabrian mob, known as the "Ndrangheta", ahead of Sicily's more storied Cosa Nostra as Italy's most powerful organised crime group.

Read more on:    italy  |  narcotics

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.