Bogota: Italian, Colombian and U.S. police have seized a total of 11 tonnes of cocaine and arrested 33 people in a major joint operation, officials said on Thursday. Most of the cocaine was seized in Colombia, Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s national anti-mafia department, said at a news conference with Colombian and U.S. drugs agents.
The drugs gang refined the cocaine in the jungles of Colombia, where seven laboratories where found, and shipped it to Europe and the United States in containers holding tropical fruit via countries including Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Of the 33 arrests which officials said were made on Thursday and in the past few days, 22 were carried out in Colombia and the rest in Italy.
The Italian end of the operation was run by the “Ndrangheta”, an organised crime group based in the southern region of Calabria, the authorities said.
The law enforcement operation was carried out jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), including its agents in Italy and Colombia, Italian police and Colombian police, Roberti and other officials told a news conference in Rome.