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Police bust int'l drug trafficking ring in Florence

Arrest 21 suspects after 3-year probe, kilos of cocaine seized

25 March, 16:57
Police bust int'l drug trafficking ring in Florence (ANSA) - Florence, March 25 - Carabinieri military police on Tuesday arrested 21 people on suspicion of international drug trafficking, including two Albanians alleged to be ringleaders and a building contractor.

Prosecutors also issued a warrant against a carabinieri marshal on suspicion of corruption. The officer allegedly shielded some of those being investigated in exchange for a car.

A total of 30 arrest warrants have been issued against suspects in the provinces of Arezzo, Bergamo, Florence, Genoa, La Spezia and Terni. Three more suspects have been placed under investigation. The arrests came after an investigation between 2009 and 2013 revealed that two international drug-trafficking rings working out of Florence and Arezzo received cocaine and marijuana shipments coming from Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, and Switzerland.

They were allegedly run by two Albanian brothers, aged 33 and 37, who were among those arrested Tuesday.

They chose to operate out of Florence due to high demand in the area, where they sold 10-15 kilos of cocaine a month, prosecutors said. "They imported drugs from North European countries because controls there are less tight. Those countries need to crack down on access routes, especially by air," prosecutors said.

During the three-year investigation, police seized over 11 kilos of cocaine in the Arezzo, Florence and Modena areas, 15 kilos of marijuana in Milan and 30,000 euros in cash. During that time they also arrested 14 Albanian and Italian citizens, catching them red-handed while in the act of drug dealing.

Also arrested Tuesday was a building contractor who comes from Calabria and owns a business in Tuscany, and who allegedly was one of the top dogs in the Arezzo part of the drug ring.