The United States and Italy worked together on a sting operation which resulted in 24 arrests, 7 in New York, and 24 in Italy. The Gambino’s, New York’s organized crime family worked with Italy’s influential ‘Ndrangheta organized crime ring in the hopes of smuggling cocaine and heroin. The Gambino’s were to provide cocaine to Italy, and in turn, the Italians were going to smuggle heroin to America.
Police used wiretaps and an undercover agent who posed as a mobster in the Brooklyn-based syndicate. They prevented the delivery of 500 kilograms of cocaine intended for Italy. Drugs were hidden in pineapples, frozen fish, and canned coconuts.
In 2012, one of the ‘Ndrangheta members visited Franco Lupoi in Brooklyn. Court papers documented him saying he knew a crooked customs agent in Italy who “would guarantee the safe arrival of container ships containing contraband.”
The ‘Ndrangheta were in the process of shipping 1,000 pounds of cocaine, worth $1 billion on the street between South America, Italy and the U.S. Several hundred thousand dollars were also seized.
U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch said, “The ‘Ndrangheta is an exceptionally dangerous, sophisticated and insidious criminal organization, with tentacles stretching from Italy to countries around the world.”
Head of Italian police’s central operative service echoed Lynch’s words by saying “the ‘Ndrangheta can and has to be considered one of the most powerful organizations in the world for handling of international drug trafficking.”
Lupoi, an alleged Gambino associate pleaded not guilty to charges including an international heroin conspiracy. He’s held without bail. The alleged ‘Ndrangheta member Raffaele Valente, a U.S. legal resident and Italian citizen also pleaded not guilty the the hearing.
Drugs and addiction are a worldwide problem. If you are suffering from addiction and wish to get help, you’re not alone. There are trustworthy drug rehab centers that can help guide you back to sobriety and mitigate your risk for legal trouble.