Corrupt customs officials who helped Calabrian Mafia move cocaine busted

By David Amoruso for Gangsters Inc.

The ‘Ndrangheta, Calabria’s Mafia, is Europe’s chief cocaine importer. It has managed to reach that top spot not just by having close contacts in South American drug cartels, but also many corrupt contacts at ports throughout Italy. On Tuesday, Italian police arrested three individuals who played key roles in helping the mobsters get the drugs through customs.

Police arrested two customs officials who worked at the port of Gioia Tauro and one employee of a shipping company. The two officials helped move cargo through the ports and safely into the hands of the Mafia which sent the cocaine to its next destination.

The arrests follow other busts made after investigations into the ‘Ndrangheta’s drug trafficking activities. One investigation caught another corrupt customs official.

Police also seized a total of 2.7 tons of cocaine between June 2020 and October 2022.

“The right person”

In 2021, Gangsters Inc. talked to crime expert Anna Sergi about port corruption. “If you work in a port, you will meet various people connected to your job and others who are not,” Sergi explains. “You might not even know what they do for a living. They might invite you to dinner or lunch, maybe to do a workout at the gym. It doesn’t really matter what they do, but it is all to build up trust between you and them. Then they might ask you for something completely silly. So you do it because you don’t see a problem with that. Then you end up giving them information that you shouldn’t be giving away.”

Port security is a specialist field. The port economy is driven by rules, procedures, and regulations that seem like an alien language, Sergi explains. “Someone who wants to navigate the ports needs a translator to guide them through. You need someone that actually tells you that in the port of Gioia Tauro in Calabria, Italy, we have software that if you press this it does that. Traffickers need to have the knowledge of how the actual port works. Even if you have someone on the inside it doesn't mean that you have the right person.”

In this case, it seems the ‘Ndrangheta needs to recruit some new corrupt contacts. Then again, they might already be in place.

Copyright © Gangsters Inc.

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