Gioia Tauro, March 22 - Italian customs and tax police on Friday stopped 200 kilogrammes of cocaine from going through this Calabrian container port from Brazil to markets in Italy and Europe. The drugs were found hidden in a shipment of leather goods in a container that had just come off a ship, investigators said. The cocaine had a street value of 40 million euros. Last year police stopped almost 3,000 kg in the huge port, up from 1,082 kg in 2011. Investigators have said Brazil has taken on a "primary role" in cocaine movement. Gioia Tauro, the largest container port in the Mediterranean, is one of the main conduits used by the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia, investigators say. 'Ndrangheta is Italy's richest mafia because of its domination of the European cocaine trade. According to a recent report from the Eurispes research agency, annual drugs profits for 'Ndrangheta are now the equivalent of 3% of Italian GDP. Ndrangheta' (from a Greek word meaning 'heroism' or virtue') once lived in the twin shadow of its Sicilian cousin Cosa Nostra and the Camorra in Naples. It is regarded as the most impenetrable of Italy's mafias, with its close-knit family-based organisation outdoing the Sicilian mafia in its ability to defeat police efforts to turn members into state witnesses. It has expanded from its Calabrian base to northern Italy, notably Lombardy, where a regional councillor was arrested in Milan in October for allegedly buying votes from 'Ndrangheta clans. The city council of Reggio Calabria was dissolved last year for alleged 'Ndrangheta links. DROGA: SEQUESTRATI NEL PORTO DI GIOIA TAURO 200 KG COCAINA ERA NASCOSTA IN CONTAINER SBARCATO DA MERCANTILE. VALORE 40 MLN GIOIA TAURO (REGGIO CALABRIA), 22 MAR - Duecento chilogrammi di cocaina sono stati sequestrati nel porto di Gioia Tauro dalla Guardia di finanza e dai funzionari dell'Agenzia delle dogane. La droga di elevata qualità è stata individuata in un container contenente pellame in transito nello scalo e sbarcato da una nave mercantile. In particolare sono stati trovati 198 panetti nascosti all'interno di cinque borsoni. La cocaina, secondo gli investigatori, avrebbe fruttato 40 milioni di euro.
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di Giovanni Pastore