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Guyana linked to Italian Mafia-like cocaine syndicate

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 20:59 by GxMedia

eggio Calabria head of Police Guido Longo, left, gives the thumbs up next to FBI special agent Leo Taddeo following a joint Italian-U.S. authorities’ press conference in Rome about an anti-Mafia blitz that led to the arrest of 24 suspects on Feb. 11, 2014

(MASHABLE.COM) The FBI and the Italian police arrested 24 people accused of taking part of large drug trafficking operation involving the ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful Italian Mafia-like syndicate, in coordinated raids in the United States and Italy on Tuesday.

In New York, the FBI arrested 7 people, including high-ranking members of the Gambino family. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Italian cops detained 17 suspects in various cities across the south of Italy. The suspects were all part of a complex operation to smuggle cocaine and heroin across the globe. The arrests were the culmination of an operation dubbed “New Bridge,” according to authorities.

The ‘Ndrangheta’s efforts to gain a foothold in New York have been dealt a lasting blow,” said Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a press release. “The ‘Ndrangheta is an exceptionally dangerous, sophisticated and insidious criminal organization, with tentacles stretching from Italy to countries around the world.”

These arrests linked the Mafia families in New York with the ‘Ndragheta, an organized crime syndicate originating from the Italian southern region of Calabria that is considered one of the most powerful in the world.

The main goal of this conspiracy was to facilitate drug shipments from Guyana to Italy. Franco Lupoi, one of the arrested in New York, allegedly planned to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine in shipments of frozen fish and pineapple, according to the prosecutors.

Previously, a shipment from Guyana en route to Italy was seized in Malaysia, containing $7 million dollars’ worth of cocaine, hidden in cans labelled to contain pineapples and coconut milk.

The seven arrested in New York are: Franco Lupoi, 44; Dominic Ali, 55; Charles Centaro (a.k.a. “Charlie Pepsi”), 50; Alexander Chan, 46; Christos Fasarakis, 42; Raffaele Valente (a.k.a. “Lello”), 42; and Jose Alfredo Garcia (a.k.a. “Freddy”), 47. They are facing various drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges. Lupoi, Chan, and Garcia each face a maximum sentence of life in prison; Ali, Centaro, and Fasarakis face 20 years, while Valente faces 10 years.