Rome, Jan 10 (IANS/AKI) Police in Italy on Tuesday held 18 suspected Calabrian mafia cocaine traffickers and issued an international arrest warrant for a man alleged to belong to a Colombian drugs cartel.
The arrests were made by Calabrian police and 14 suspects were taken to prison while four were put under house arrest.
The bust targeted activities of the Calabrian mafia or Ndrangheta’s Morabito-Bruzzaniti-Palamara clan, which is accused of the large-scale trafficking of cocaine from South America to Calabria concealed in containers of frozen fish and crates of vegetables.
The drugs were shipped from Colombia to the Calabrian port of Gioa Tauro and the gang also used couriers who flew from the Colombian capital Bogota to airports in central and northern Italy with the narcotics hidden in suitcases, according to investigators.
The gang bribed airport security officials to turn a blind eye to the contents of the couriers’ luggage, investigators said.
“This is an important operation,” said Reggio Calabria’s chief anti-lmafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho.
“It continues the fight against drug trafficking. And it managed to target and sever the direct contact between several suspects linked to the Morabito-Bruzzaniti-Palamara clan and (South American) drugs cartels,” de Raho stated.
Officers in the northern Italian city of Milan and Bologna, the eastern coastal city of Pescara and the southern city of Naples were involved in Tuesday’s bust, police said.
The operation followed a probe that documented the gang’s prolific trafficking activities with Colombia through thousands of wiretapped and bugged conversations as well as online surveillance.