MILAN -- Tuesday's confiscation by Italian agents of 4.3 tons cocaine worth nearly a quarter of a billion euros (dollars), in Trieste, northeastern Italy was a major blow to the Gulf Clan of Colombia. It was one of the biggest European drug busts.
38 individuals were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking in Italy and the Netherlands. After a yearlong investigation, which also included U.S. citizens, the Italian financial police carried out the seizure and coordinated with anti-mafia investigators. Homeland Security
Anti-mafia investigators stated that the undercover operation had "taken another strong approach to one of Colombia's most important groups in narcos," in an English statement.
At the time of his extradition, Ivan Duque, Colombia's President, compared him with Pablo Escobar (the late head of the Medellin Drug cartel), and called him "the most dangerous drug dealer in the world."
Italian authorities estimate that the drug was purchased by criminal groups for 96 million euros ($102million). The cocaine would have cost 240 million euros to buy on the Italian market. Undercover agents spied on the drug smuggling network, which was located in the northern regions Veneto, Lombardy and Lazio, as well as the Lazio region, Rome, and Calabria at the tip of Italy's boot.
Undercover agents were involved with 19 "controlled delivery" operations during the investigation. This led to the identification and arrest of key traffickers at both the international and intermediary levels.
Agents also confiscated 1.8 million euros of cash and vehicles used for trafficking including a large-rig truck.