Italian police have captured two tons of cocaine that were found floating in the eastern Sicily Sea. The cocaine, estimated to be worth 400 million euros ($450 million), was wrapped in protective plastic and strung together with netting.
Police aircraft flew over the area of the sea to spot any other cocaine bundles that might have separated from the netting. Investigators hypothesized that a cargo ship left the cocaine in the sea as part of a scheme for another vessel to come along and eventually bring it to land.
The police released a video showing the drugs wrapped in 70 waterproof packages held together by nets and kept afloat by life preservers. The Cosa Nostra syndicate is one of the frontrunners of organized crime on the island of Sicily.
However, the ‘Ndrangheta crime group, based in Calabria, seems to be dominating the drug trade in Italy and European regions. Europol claim ‘Ndrangheta as one of the “most threatening” organized crime groups. Their rise has been supported by its “enormous financial might” and “immense corruptive power.”
The ‘Ndrangheta is more profitable than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank combined, taking in billions of dollars annually. The financial police dispatched boats from the Sicilian municipality of Catania and provided air cover from multiple units to ensure the safety of the officers involved in the operation.
The Italian police are continuing to search the area for any more floating packets of cocaine. In January, Italian authorities arrested Matteo Messina Denaro, the Cosa Nostra group’s “last godfather,” after a 30-year manhunt.
The ‘Ndrangheta has become a highly sophisticated global network with a firm hold on the international narcotics trade and control over vast swathes of its home turf. The recent cocaine seizure is being hailed as a “record” for Italy’s Guardia di Finanza.
In February, more than 3 tons of cocaine floating in the ocean were seized by authorities in New Zealand, in one of the country’s biggest ever drug busts.
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