Europe

Dozens of arrests ordered in 'Ndrangheta drugs raid

A view of a Calabrian village Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The 'Ndrangheta is based in the southern Italian region of Calabria

Police have ordered the arrest of 34 people in Italy and another four in Spain in an international drugs raid.

The suspects are accused of smuggling large quantities of cocaine from Colombia to Europe in sailing boats.

Officials said among those arrested is a commander of the Colombian left-wing rebel group, Farc.

Police said the suspects were part of a transatlantic drugs ring run by the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate, which has its base in southern Italy.

Joint operation

The investigation, dubbed Santa Fe, was carried out jointly by Italian agents, members of the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Spain's Guardia Civil.

Officials said the drug ring operated in countries as far flung as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Spain and Montenegro.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police said the drugs were being smuggled into the port of Gioia Tauro

The identity of the Farc commander has not yet been made public, but Colombian media said it would soon be revealed.

The rebel group derives much of its finances from cocaine production and trafficking.

Officials said that in the course of their investigations they seized a total of four tonnes of cocaine.

One of the largest seizures was in the night of 25-26 August last year when the Spanish navy stopped a sailboat heading for the Italian coast.

They found 856kg of cocaine on board.

They said that the drugs were smuggled from Colombia mainly into southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro in Calabria, but that they were also taken to ports in northern Italy such as Vado Ligure, Livorno and Genoa.

Police say the 'Ndrangheta operates the biggest cocaine smuggling network in Europe.

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