Italian authorities have seized hundreds of kilograms of cocaine being sent to the Calabrese mob for redistribution and wholesale. Authorized by Reggio Calabria prosecutors, police arrested more than a dozen suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia.
The 'Ndrangheta are a major crime organization based in province of Calabria, Italy's southern boot tip. While the Mafia (capital M) operates mainly on the island of Sicily, the 'Ndrangheta are deeply ingrained on the mainland.
The investigation stretched as far as Spain, Holland and the United States, where the 'Ndrangheta is thought to ship drugs. According to Italian news reports, the clan imports drugs from South America and then smuggles them out across the world.
Reggio courts issued 45 domestic arrest warrants for suspected gang members, and there are currently five European arrest warrants out for suspects in Spain and the Netherlands.
Is the 'Ndrangheta poised to collapse?
Last week, a Roman café that was frequented by politicians and journalists alike was raided by Italian police..
The two-story coffee shop, just a few steps from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office and the headquarters of the Italian government, was allegedly run by the 'Ndrangheta. The café was one of 18 business seized by police in and around Rome, and the Italian police have purportedly captured 20 million euros in 'Ndrangheta assets.
The crackdowns are a further sign that Silvio Berlusconi's government is taking a hard line on organized crime in Italy, which had run rampant and unchallenged for decades.
It would take a lot to rid Italy of organized crime, but the situation, which was once out of control, is getting better. Along with the Mafia and the 'Ndrangheta, there is also the Camorra in Naples. The international nature of the drug bust proves how established and widespread Italian crime syndicates have become.
Over the past three years, the Italian state police force known as the Caribineri have arrested more than 8,000 suspected Mafiosi.
In 2008, police arrested 166 people in Italy, Mexico and the United States. Another 13 'Ndrangheta members were arrested in Italy in 2010.