Police swoop on international mafia drug ring
Dozens of suspected drug traffickers from the powerful 'Ndrangheta mafia have been arrested in an operation spanning Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States, Italian police said Thursday.
American and Italian detectives worked together to bust the international drug ring, which smuggled cocaine from Latin America to Calabria in the south of Italy via the United States, the police said in a statement.
The drugs were then distributed throughout Italy and abroad.
The majority of the 45 suspects issued with arrest warrants were seized in the southern region of Calabria -- the 'Ndrangheta's stronghold -- as well as in Sicily, Rome and the northern Lombardy region around Milan.
Five European warrants were issued for suspects in Spain and the Netherlands, while Italy requested that three others -- currently in Colombia, the United States and Venezuela -- be arrested and extradited.
Eleven of the warrants issued were for suspects already serving time.
The bust was the third stage in a vast, ongoing operation to break the trafficking ring. In 2008 police had already arrested 166 people in Italy, Mexico and the United States -- plus another 13 in Italy in 2010, the statement said.
The 'Ndrangheta -- whose name comes from the Greek for courage or loyalty -- is one of Italy's four organised crime syndicates, along with the Sicilian Mafia, the Sacra Corona from southeastern Puglia and the Naples-area Camorra.
One of the most powerful and secretive crime syndicates in the world, it has been linked to operations across western and northern Europe, the Americas and Australia and is notoriously difficult to penetrate.
© 2011 AFP