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Italy, US crack down on mafia drug smuggling

ROME (AP) - U.S. and Italian authorities said Tuesday they had broken up a new heroin-and cocaine-trafficking ring coordinated by Italy's powerful 'ndrangheta organized crime syndicate and New York City's Gambino crime family. Seventeen people were arrested in Italy and another seven in New York, officials said.

The investigation underscored how 'ndrangheta is spreading its operations beyond Italy's borders as it consolidates its position as one of the world's most powerful drug traffickers, officials said. It also laid bare how the 'ndrangheta, based in the southern region of Calabria, is encroaching on territory once occupied by the Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra, since the Gambinos were the Sicilian Mafia's U.S. branch.

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 Gambinos with the 'ndrangheta. In exchange, the Italians were to provide heroin to the American market.

The aim was to "build a bridge of criminality and corruption to stretch from South America to Italy and back to New York," said Marshall Miller, a top prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn.

Using wiretaps and an undercover agent named "Jimmy" who infiltrated the Brooklyn-based mob, officials said they thwarted the delivery to Italy of some 500 kilograms of pure cocaine that was to have been hidden in shipments of canned coconuts and pineapples being shipped from Guyana to Gioia Tauro.

"The 'ndrangheta can and has to be considered one of the most powerful organizations in the world for handling of international drug-trafficking," said Raffaele Grassi, head of the Italian police's central operative service unit. "The 'ndrangheta has left its territory of origin: beyond occupying areas of our country and infiltrating itself in northern Italy, the 'ndrangheta is looking for criminals beyond the borders, invading new markets to make profit."

FBI agents worked alongside Italian police in Italy and vice versa, and Miller and other officials from the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn were on hand in Rome for the press conference announcing the arrests. The Italian suspects are accused of mafia association and drug trafficking, among other charges. Miller said one of the U.S.-based suspects was accused of laundering money through a Brooklyn-based bank and that several hundred thousand dollars was seized.

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kazema February 11 2014 at 4:46 PM

Do you think that Amanda Knox is happy to hear how closely American and Italians work together when it comes to law enforcement?

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frozenbull kazema February 11 2014 at 4:57 PM


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leswards February 12 2014 at 7:22 AM

About time it had been going on for several years , that will make de mafia to moved on some were else new ports and bank to work with hard to stop and get rid off contraband will be there as long they don't make it legal like amsterdan it will be a market for big big money. i wish they will hire me to do under cover work .i'm good on it , good traveling, dinning, risk of getting kill and overall causes for human safety, meeting people you never knew they were dealing with. J.E special agent, inteligent service work. for your needs.

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mbrheljr February 12 2014 at 9:18 AM

Thanks guys! You warm this old dope prosecutor's heart!

As you already know, a pound of heroin or coke will get a minimum of 20,000 addicts high.

And, as you also know, they are committing significant crimes daily to get their chemical body additive of choice.

So, from the "drug czar of the desert," please keep up the good work.

And, above all, stay safe...

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rini1946 February 11 2014 at 7:11 PM

does it matter so now mexico or the arabs will pick up production and distribution. Just legalize the crap already and work on programs to help people that get hooked on them and start programs to talk people out of using them. I do not use drug and if we could stop it please do. but all we do is just put a dent in it and raise the price for the users and give the pushers a bigger profit.

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Justice is Rare rini1946 February 12 2014 at 5:40 AM

I don't use drugs myself, I was always afraid of them. As for the arabs and mexicans picking up prodiction, I have news for you. Mexico is just a way to get the drugs in the U.S. I would imagone coming from South America, namely Cocaine, and arabs no, Afghanistan produced Heroin, and it is shipped here. The DEA, is probably the organization that also worked with Italy, and the FBI, and those people are great in my eyes. As far as legalizing these drugs, I say no. There are far too many people dieing from it now, or getting infected by way of shared needles. As far as stopping the drug trade, well good luck with that. That is a war the DEA has been fighting for years, and they are the best in my eyes, love those guys!! Oh and as far as President Obama and his sinus problem, well maybe he has a sinus condition, that is natural to all people affected with sinus conditions, and not what you were not brave enough to say, namely, that you felt it had something to do with his trip to Italy, and using drugs. I guess you just could not resist making a cheap shot like that, now that says a lot about you. I am a legal professional and have seen a lot, and you know when you get one dealer or trafficker and put them in jail, another comes in to take his/her place. It is like trying to empty the ocean with a tea cup, so before you comment on something you clearly know nothing about, look around and learn. The DEA does all it can against the war on drugs. Oh and drug money also sponsers terrorism. Truth!!

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Justice is Rare rini1946 February 12 2014 at 5:57 AM

Rini, sorry I got you mixed up with mtrazzeli, as far as the cheap shot about President Obama. Sorry about that. mtrazzeli, why not read that part, it is speaking to and about you. Read and learn. Sinus conditions can get worse due to allergies, which come on out of nowhere, or just bad sinuses. How do you know President Obama did not have a sinus infection before going to Italy? Do you think it is something that should be published, as in President has bad sinus condition, or President developed a sinus condition. As far as President Obama, I think everybody is a critic, when nobody really gave him a chance when he got into office. Hardly fair don't you think? He also tries to do the best for this country and he is met with no cooperation, so how can he get the things done that he feels are good for this country? Oh and, when he entered office he was faced with a mess and a big debt left by other president's, so I personally am sick of people always blaming, and just him. Why not get over the fact that, he is the first Black President, which many people haven't liked. Well get over it, Black people are people too, and have the same right as I do as a white person, and they should. We are all people, no matter the color or facial features, there is good and bad in all of us. I think President Obama is and has had the best interest of this country in mind.

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chckpope February 11 2014 at 5:11 PM

Oh that makes me feel soo much better. Like they haven't already declared war on drugs a million times over and there are more than ever now. How about sending drones up these smugglers aases along with those that are here buying the crap and be done with it.

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mtrazzeli February 11 2014 at 7:40 PM

and in other world news president obama is seeking medical treatment for a mysteriously constant sniffing sinus condition he developed while visiting the italian prime minister last fall to discuss trade negotiations of pharmaceutical wholesale raw materials for governmeant research programs.

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Tom February 11 2014 at 8:19 PM

u go guys......being a agent well ucercoer the cops thought i was a dealer......I put 4 police officers in fed prison myself........a appaule u guys for getting that stuff off the streets and keepingour kids safe

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ERIC February 12 2014 at 4:06 AM

It sickens me that our country is "teaming up" with Italy after the Hell they put Amamda Knox thru (and still are). I'm boycotting Italy.

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ERIC ERIC February 12 2014 at 4:08 AM

Correction: Amanda Knox. Not Amamda.

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Tom P February 12 2014 at 6:38 AM


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Cindy February 12 2014 at 4:03 AM

You mean to tell me these wiseguys still exist...geez

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jaded13640 Cindy February 12 2014 at 5:53 AM

Of course they still exist. They just now know they're not untouchable and don't parade it around like they used to. I'm sure if you knew them or at least of them it would be obvious. But they're still around. There's too much money to be made from crime to have them ever completely disappear.

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