FBI Busts International Mafia Drug Ring, Officials Say

By Murray Weiss and Aidan Gardiner  on February 11, 2014 9:18am

 Members of the Gambino and the Ndrangheta families smuggled heroin and cocaine, the FBI said.
Members of the Gambino and the Ndrangheta families smuggled heroin and cocaine, the FBI said.
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MANHATTAN — Federal investigators took down a mafia drug smuggling operation that stretched from South America to Italy and New York City, officials said.

Seven men were arrested in the city Tuesday morning along with another 17 who were apprehended in Italy, according to the FBI.

The raids primarily targeted two mafia crime families that work together internationally, the Gambinos and the Ndrangheta in Calabria, Italy.

A two-year investigation involved delivery to Italy of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, heroin and marijuana hidden in coconuts, pineapples and frozen fish, officials said.

The seven New York arrests included members of the Gambino, Ndrangheta and Bonanno crime families, officials said.

The operation foiled a plan to smuggle drugs and weapons from South America to Gioia Tauro in Calabria, which is one of Europe's largest ports, officials said.

In recent years, the hierarchy of the Gambinos have been Sicilians or American Italians tracing their roots to Sicily. They have commonly worked with members of the Ndrangheta there to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

FBI agents traveled to Italy to take part in the operation, officials said.

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