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A two-year investigation by the FBI and the Italian National Police yielded 24 arrests, breaking an organized crime ring that had roots in both the United States and Italy. In the U.S. , investigators arrested 7 individuals, while in Italy, another 17 were rounded up. The charges against them include narcotics trafficking and money laundering.

Prosecutors say that the ’Ndrangheta, an Italian crime organization notorious for kidnappings and cocaine importation in Europe was trying to gain a foothold in New York. According to prosecutors, Franco Lupoi, a Brooklyn bakery owner with ties to the Gambino crime factory "exploited those underworld connections to link his criminal associates in New York with those in Calabria, forming conspiracies to traffic heroin and cocaine.”

According to The Guardian:

An undercover FBI agent is alleged to have been present as Lupoi and Simonetta discussed plans to ship cocaine and heroin from the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro – a well known mafia stronghold – to the US. Court documents say that the two alleged conspirators sold more than 1.3kg of heroin to an FBI undercover agent, thinking it would be distributed across the US.

Operation "New Bridge," as it was known, also prevented the delivery of more than $7 million worth of cocaine, which investigators found hidden in shipping containers among pineapple and coconut milk. Drugs were also supposedly hidden in frozen fish.

Among the very funny nicknames that prosecutors will have to say with a straight face in court are Charlie Pepsi, Tall Pete, Vinny TV, and Freddy. Kudos to Freddy for rising high enough on the ladder to just completely ditch the last name.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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