Italian Syndicate Quietly Rules Europe's Cocaine Trade

US market tumbles as mobsters flourish
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2007 4:44 PM CST
Caribinieri Colonel Paulo Ferrarese (R) chats 12 November 2007 at police headquarters in Milan with an unidentfied man near a board featuring pictures of the 49 people arrested earlier in the day, mostly...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Europe is gaining a foothold in the world’s cocaine trade, elbowing out the US as the largest market thanks to the bravado of one Italian crime syndicate. The ‘Ndrangheta mafia, based in the hills of southern Italy, has won prominence by dealing directly with Colombian kingpins and shunning the spotlight, the LA Times reports. The syndicate of 155 families has assets totaling $50 billion.

As the US trade falters, ‘Ndrangheta is “getting stronger all the time,” said one prosecutor. Another official added, “Drugs are burying us.” The ‘Ndrangheta's members maintained a fiercely quiet existence until an ambush of a rival family thrust them into the headlines and unleashed raids by Italian and German police. (Read more cocaine stories.)

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