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U.S. And Italian Officials Crack Down On Mafia Drug Operations

By McCarton Ackerman 02/12/14

A collaboration between the FBI and Italian officials started with intercepting mob emails and resulted with disrupting an operation involving $1 billion in cocaine.

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Officials in the U.S. and Italy have joined forces to halt mafia drug operations on both sides of the pond. A total of 24 arrests have been made so far, including seven yesterday at social clubs throughout Brooklyn and 17 earlier arrests in Calabria, Italy. The anti-mafia operation is targeting an international heroin and cocaine trafficking ring involving the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy’s most powerful organized crime syndicates, as well as associates of the Gambino and Bonanno organized crime families.

The collaboration between the FBI and Italian officials first began in 2012 and involved intercepting e-mails between Italian mobsters and a fruit canning company in Georgetown, Guyana. Hundreds of kilograms of cocaine were found hidden in shipments of frozen fish and pineapples, according to U.S. officials. The ‘Ndrangheta organization was also in the advanced stages of shipping 1,000 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of approximately $1 billion, between South America, Italy and the U.S. The officials also reported that several hundred thousand dollars were also seized.

“The ‘Ndrangheta is an exceptionally dangerous, sophisticated and insidious criminal organization, with tentacles stretching from Italy to countries around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. "What we see here is 'Ndrangheta attempting to gain a foothold in the New York area and the United States.” All seven of those arrested in Brooklyn are being arraigned this afternoon and have been charged with narcotics trafficking, money laundering and firearms offenses.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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