A dismantled drug cartel, 15 arrests and 12 kilos of cocaine seized. This is the balance sheet of the carabinieri operation, christened ‘Santiago’, which on Tuesday, from the first light of dawn, saw interventions in Milan, Rome and Viterbo.
In trouble 15 people accused in various ways of association aimed at illicit drug trafficking with the aggravating circumstance of transnationality, transfer and detention for the purpose of drug dealing. The arrests, on the order for the application of precautionary measures in prison issued by the Gip of the Court of Rome, as a result of the investigations conducted by the military, of the Investigative Unit of “Via in Selci”, since 2018.
The investigations were triggered by the arrest, in Chile, of a local 20-year-old, blocked while she was carrying about 10 kilos of cocaine that was supposed to arrive in Rome by plane. From subsequent investigations by the carabinieri, the recipient of the drug load was identified, a Chilean domiciled in Rome, who is considered one of the referents of the criminal association dedicated to drug trafficking.
The complex investigations made it possible to delineate the existence of a structured association operating between different States and composed mainly of South Americans who, from what has been reconstructed, managed contacts with foreign suppliers in Peru through telephone numbers in the name of fictitious subjects and had relationships with buyers in Italy, to which they sent the ordered drug consignments through couriers.
The people in charge of transporting the drug, mostly women, hid it in bottles of drinks and phyto-therapeutic products, or inside ingested eggs before boarding planes traveling between Santiago de Chile, Lima and Rome.
Among the recipients of the batches of drugs imported by the group of South Americans, also an Italian resident in the province of Crotone, who in the month of March of the year 2019, should have received a sample of a supply of narcotic at home to test its qualities. Among the promoters of drug trafficking, however, a 25-year-old South American who was involved in finding the drug in Peru and then entrusting it, for transport, to people who arrived in Rome from South America.
As part of the investigations, the full involvement of several South American women was ascertained, who collaborated with the leaders of the criminal organization by preparing the administrative documentation for stay or for tourism reasons, necessary for couriers to enter Italy and pass the checks at the border; identifying accommodation facilities where to welcome couriers to allow them to expel drug eggs; retailing batches of cocaine; and by keeping the money from the illicit activity that, in part, they sent to their country of origin through money transfer.
In Rome, drug dealing activities took place over the phone using coded phrases – cocaine, for example, was referred to as a ‘sandwich’. The prolonged and meticulous follow-up activities of the carabinieri made it possible to arrest 11 people in the act of crime for dealing and possession of drugs; seize a total of 12.6 kilos of ‘coca’. Military operations also took place in the Lombard capital