Coordinated drug raids in New York and Italy resulted in arrests on both sides of the Atlantic on Tuesday, as law enforcement officials in both countries targeted a mob-linked drug trafficking route. The alleged route involved both the New York-based Sicilian Mafia, and the Italian 'ndrangheta crime ring.
The route in question brought illegal drugs and weapons from South and Central America into Europe, though the major port of Goia Tauro. The BBC reports that the raids stopped a delivery of hundreds of kilos of cocaine, at least some of which was apparently hidden in cans of coconuts and pineapples. CBS's Allen Pizzey was invited by Italian police to tag along during the raid. He conveyed a dramatic description of what happened:
The operation took place in the dead of night under conditions of absolute secrecy. Pizzey says the area is so infested with local Mafia, that they literally have eyes and ears everywhere...Pizzey said some of the suspects apprehended in Italy were so surprised by the raids, that there were taken into custody after a polite knock at their door -- no shots fired, no handcuffs necessary.
The new, and now defunct, smuggling route represented a new collaboration between powerful elements of the New York and Italian mobs. The U.S. end of the investigation targeted the Gambino crime family, who are suspected of negotiating the drug route for all involved parties. At least five of those arrested are from the family, one of five long-connected to the American mafia.