Europe: Dozens Arrested in International Cocaine Bust

Dozens were arrested in seven countries in an action against a drug smuggling network connected to the Italian Ndrangheta organized crime group. The arrests were carried out in Italy, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Finland, Netherlands, Croatia and Spain at the request of the Milan District Anti-Mafia Prosecutor’s Office.

The police seized 6 tons of cocaine and around €10 million (US$12.4 million) worth of assets. In addition, the Italian authorities tracked down bank accounts in Switzerland suspected of being connected to the dismantled trafficking operation.

According to the investigators, the cocaine was imported to Europe from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela on a fleet of ships belonging to the trafficking network, with Italian and international crews.

The Ndrangheta is considered by the Italian authorities to be the most powerful criminal organization in Italy. It is also believed to control the European cocaine market, and has connections to international drug cartels including those in South America, Canada and Australia.

In March 2011, the Italian Anti-Mafia Commission reported that Ndrangheta has expanded their influence into northern Italy, thanks to their “unlimited financial resources."