Italy's Mafia-Dominated Cocaine Port

The 'Ndrangheta mafia's control over Gioia Tauro Port has made it the heart of Europe's cocaine trade.

Italy's Mafia-Dominated Cocaine Port
The Port of Gioia Tauro in Southern Italy is a critical hub for global cocaine trade. Photo: Vice News.

'Ndrangheta's Control Over the Port of Gioia Tauro

The 'Ndrangheta mafia has transformed the Port of Gioia Tauro into a critical hub for global cocaine trade, controlling a staggering two-thirds of Europe's cocaine influx. The port, located in the southwestern region of Calabria, Italy, managed by this notorious mafia, is a major transit point for almost all cocaine entering Italy through the Mediterranean. A study found that Gioia Tauro was responsible for intercepting a whopping 97% of the 14 tons of cocaine entering Italy last year.

Increase in Cocaine Seizures

The port has seen a surge in cocaine seizures in recent years, intercepting 13.3 tons of cocaine in 2021 compared to a significantly lower 2.3 tons seized in 2011. This increase can be attributed to Gioia Tauro becoming a major hub for South American cocaine, leading to Calabria accounting for two-thirds of all cocaine seized in Italy.

Gioia Tauro Port as a Transshipment Point

Gioia Tauro not only facilitates the import of cocaine into Italy, but it also serves as a key transshipment point for trafficking to various locations including the Balkans, the Aegean Sea, and the Black Sea. A growing trend suggests an increase in cocaine being shipped from Gioia Tauro to Turkey, indicating the rise of Turkish criminal organizations in the global drug trade.

'Ndrangheta Clans' Influence on Port

From its inception, the port has been heavily influenced by 'Ndrangheta clans. Prominent families such as the Piromalli-Molé and Pesce families have profited extensively from the port, demanding a security tax for every container processed. It's estimated that around 35% of businesses operating at the port have mafia links, indicating the port's deep-rooted ties to corruption and organized crime.

'Ndrangheta's Cocaine Supply Chain Control

The 'Ndrangheta mafia uses its control over the port not only for drug trafficking but also to manipulate the hiring process, fostering an environment of high-level corruption. Their stronghold over the port enables them to manage the entire cocaine supply chain, from investment and import to distribution. The mafia's intricate setup at Gioia Tauro gives them an unparalleled advantage in the cocaine trade.

Challenge for Authorities

The global cocaine trade, with its powerful players and evolving dynamics, presents a complex challenge for authorities. Ports like Gioia Tauro, under the influence of powerful mafias, have become major hubs in this trade.

Source: Vice News, The Connect, Wanted Fugitive

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