Italy US crack down on mafia drug smuggling
MILAN (AP) -- A joint Italian-U.S. anti-Mafia blitz is underway with numerous arrests reported on both sides of the Atlantic.
Italian anti-Mafia police said the "New Bridge" operation targeted a new cocaine trafficking route from South America to the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro that united the U.S. branch of the Sicilian Mafia with the Calabrian 'ndrangheta crime syndicate.
Officials said undercover agents in both countries prevented the delivery to Italy of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine hidden in shipments of coconuts and pineapples during the two-year investigation. They also confiscated heroin and marijuana.
U.S. and Italian authorities were seeking 26 suspects, including a member of the Gambino crime family in New York who authorities said negotiated the new smuggling route.
Gioia Tauro in Calabria is one of Europe's largest shipping ports.