The Port of Gioia Tauro – a thriving drug hub controlled by the ‘Ndrangheta

The Port of Gioia Tauro - a thriving drug hub controlled by the 'Ndrangheta

According to a recent report by Italy’s Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA), the anti-drug unit, Gioia Tauro, a port in the southwest region of Calabria, which is controlled by the ‘Ndrangheta, was the entrance point of 97 percent of the nearly 14 tons of cocaine entering Italy via the Mediterranean sea last year.

While cocaine seizures decreased in Genoa and Livorno, the other two major west coast ports, over the past two years, they increased in Gioia Tauro, which is located on the Tyrrhenian Sea at Italy’s “toe.”

Authorities intercepted 13.3 tons of cocaine going through the port in 2021, roughly six times as much as the 2.3 tons found there in 2011. Three tons of cocaine were found in two shipments of bananas, peanuts, and washing machines in December of last year by Italian authorities.

The quantity of drugs captured going through a port is only a fraction of the amount that actually makes it through. According to estimates, five kilograms of cocaine on average escape detection and end up in the hands of criminal gangs for every kilogram that the authorities discover. This means that, according to statistics, Gioia Tauro was successfully used to smuggle the equivalent of about 70 million gram bags of high purity cocaine last year.

According to the DIA, an increasing amount of cocaine is travelling to Gioia Tauro from Turkey, and it is believed that the drugs are then sent onward to ports in the Balkans, the Aegean Sea, and the Black Sea.

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