In coordination with Italian law enforcement authorities, the FBI has busted an Italy based mob working with Mexican drug cartels to distribute drugs and illegal firearms in New York City. A 15-count indictment was unsealed early Tuesday charging seven New York defendants with money laundering, firearms offenses and narcotics trafficking. Italian agents arrested 17 people in Calabria, Italy.
The charges for the men based in New York stem from involvement in a transnational heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy. The men arrested in Italy are part of Ndrangheta, one of the country's most powerful and brutal crime syndicates.
"The ‘Ndrangheta is an exceptionally dangerous, sophisticated, and insidious criminal organization with tentacles stretching from Italy to countries around the world,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “The defendant Lupoi sought to use his connections with both ‘Ndrangheta and the Gambino crime family to extend his own criminal reach literally around the globe. Today, thanks to the vigilance and sustained cooperation of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners in Italy, the ‘Ndrangheta’s efforts to gain a foothold in New York have been dealt a lasting blow.”
During the course of the investigation, an undercover FBI agent discovered members of Ndrangheta were working with Mexican drug cartels in Guyana, South America to move narcotics to market. Recorded undercover conversations reveal a conspiracy to move large shipments of cocaine internationally by hiding packages in frozen fish and pineapples. Criminals from the Italian enterprise and the Mexican cartel also worked together to obtain weapons. According to the FBI, one defendent based in New York "revealed that he had assembled a group of well-armed men in New York and that their base of operations was as secure as Fort Knox."
If convicted, sentencing for defendants in this case will range from 20 years to life in prison.