The FBI has been giving more details of an alleged global mafia heroin and cocaine trafficking ring as suspects in New York were led away to court.
At least 24 arrests were made, on both sides of the Atlantic, as US agents swooped simultaneously with Italian police.
It is claimed mobsters in both countries were plotting to smuggle hundreds of millions of euros in drugs from South America.
Investigators say that Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta crime clan was trying to make inroads into the US by forging ties with New York’s notorious Gambino family.
“The Italian organised crime family was trying to get involved in a New York family and at this point the Italian officials came to the New York office and we worked jointly with the Italian national police to prevent this family from getting ahold of New York city,” FBI New York Assistant Director, George Venizelos, told reporters.
“The cooperation we have had with the Italian national police is unprecedented,” he added. “It’s an organisation we have had a long history with and we will continue to have a good history with them throughout.”
Most of the arrests were made in Italy where, in a two year long operation, an undercover agent is said to have infiltrated the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta clan.
It is claimed a plot to smuggle some 500 kg of pure cocaine from Guyana in South America in shipments of canned food was in its advanced stages.
Those arrested are accused of international drugs trafficking, money laundering and membership in organised crime.