Spanish police arrest Italian mafia suspects
Spanish police on Tuesday arrested about 20 suspected members of a mafia group thought to be involved in an international drug-running empire worth around a billion euros, a judicial source said.
The sting operation, carried out in several cities across the country at the request of Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors, targeted suspected members of the Polverino clan, added the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Polverino members are suspected of shipping hashish from Morocco to Spain and then to Naples in southern Italy.
According to Italian police, the clan's leader, Giuseppe Polverino, controlled part of the traffic in drugs between Spain and Italy and an empire worth around a billion euros.
He was arrested last March in Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain.
Members of the Polverino clan are wanted in Italy for membership of a mafia association, attempted murder, extortion, usury, illegal possession of weapons, drug trafficking and money laundering.
The group, which operates in the northern suburbs of Naples, is accused of importing hashish into Italy from Spain.
Spain's proximity to Morocco, a major hashish producer, and its close ties with its former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine-producing region, have made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.
Several Italian mafia clans have transferred their more risky activities such as drug trafficking to Spain, according to Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, the author of "Gomorrah," the best-selling expose on the criminal underworld in Naples.
Camorra bosses refer to Spain's Mediterranean coast as "Costa Nostra", or "our coast", alluding to the Sicilian mafia "Cosa Nostra", according to Saviano.
© 2013 AFP