Cosa Nostra still big in drugs
Sicily's Cosa Nostra is still a major force in the global drugs trade and has not been supplanted by its Calabrian cousin the 'Ndrangheta, investigators said Wednesday.
On Wednesday police arrested some 40 people accused of selling cocaine and marijuana from the 'narcotrafficantes' of Colombia and Peru all across Italy.
In the operation, which used 300 police officers, several helicopters and a number of sniffer-dog units, police said they had smashed a major Palermo drugs ring.
The gang, police said, imported more than 100 kg of drugs annually wih a street value of some 800,000 euros per kg.
''This operation shows that Cosa Nostra is still a major player in drugs,'' said Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) transnational crime envoy Carlo Vizzini.
''Sicily is becoming, once again, a key cross-roads for the international drugs trade,'' he added.
A rash of recent operations against Cosa Nostra kingpins appeared to highlight that the Sicilian crime organisation had gone back to more traditional areas of crime such as racketeering and public contract swindles - allowing the 'Ndrangheta to become the world leader in narcotics.
The Italian Mafia accounts for some seven percent of Italy's GDP, according to the most recent figures.