Rome, April 3: A major haul of 215 kg cocaine worth $59 million was seized and 23 people arrested by Italian police Wednesday as part of its anti-drug operations.
In the first major crackdown against drug trafficking between South America and Italy, police seized 215 kilos of pure cocaine in the southern port of Gioia Tauro, in the Calabria region. The drug was hidden aboard a cargo ship, inside a container carrying bananas from Ecuador, Xinhua reported.
The operation was carried out by “Guardia di Finanza”, Italian finance military police, and by custom officers who described the seized cocaine’s worth around 43 million euros ($59 million) on the market.
Police forces also arrested 23 people on drug charges, in a separate operation launched by anti-mafia prosecutors in Naples. Those arrested belonged to two distinct groups that were allegedly in charge of drug smuggling between Spain and Italy, prosecutors said.
Both operations were seen as a crackdown on the business of Italian mafia syndicates.
Italy’s anti-drug agency estimated that 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled in Europe is delivered from South America to Gioia Tauro port, which is allegedly under the control of a powerful Calabria-based syndicate.