An international cocaine trafficking network managed by the ‘Ndrangheta, the powerful Calabrian mafia, was dismantled Tuesday by the Italian police, who had succeeded in deciphering their communication code.
The traffickers “communicated by means of a complex code associating numbers with letters of the alphabet, without spaces or punctuation”, explained Captain Carmine Virno, whose team carried out the investigation.
90 suspects involved
Around 400 police officers with 57 arrest warrants carried out raids across the country at dawn, after four years of an investigation dubbed “Crypto” and involving 90 suspects, including many members of the police. mafia clans. This trafficking was aimed at transporting large quantities of cocaine, hidden in caches in cars, from northern Europe and Spain to Italy and sometimes to Malta by boat.
Several families of mafia clans of Gioia Tauro and Rosarno in Calabria, the Italian tip of the Boot, had established direct links with their suppliers in South America through an intermediary in the Dominican Republic, the police said in a statement. Another suspect, who lives in Germany but has connections in Calabria, was acting as an intermediary and carrier to dealers in northern Europe.
The most powerful Italian mafia
The traffickers “used disposable German SIM cards and communicated exclusively by text message, so that their voices could not be identified in case their phones were tapped,” said Captain Virno. It was his team that succeeded in deciphering the communication code of the traffickers. Once the code was broken, the police set up surveillance operations to collect evidence against the suspects, which then culminated in Tuesday’s crackdown which resulted in the seizure of assets worth 3.7 million. ‘euros.
The Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta is considered by experts to be the most powerful Italian mafia since it supplanted the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra. No one knows exactly what its numbers are, but according to Italian justice, it has at least 20,000 members around the world.