DCSA, in cooperation with the General Secretariat of Interpol Lyon, is developing the  Southern Route project,  involving some African countries Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda- in combating the trafficking in heroin coming from Afghanistan,   crossing the so-called “Southern Route,  where our country is one of the points of arrival in Europe of the opiate loads. This initiative, that belongs to the  Icarus Project – developed by DCSA in cooperation with the Department for Antidrug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – is part of the antidrug police international cooperation and is aimed at studying and analyzing this phenomenon in order to develop joint operational countermeasures to combat such trafficking and drug-related phenomena in some transit regions.

Within this project, in October 2022, the  first  meeting  was held at the Multiagency College  of Advanced Studies for Law Enforcement Officers. The meeting was attended by high-profile representatives of foreign Anti-Drug Offices and qualified officers and officials from the Central Bureaus of the national law enforcement agencies. The first days of study, discussion and operational exchange were held at the commercial-passenger port and at the international airport of the Mauritius capital, Port Louis at the end of November .

Last June, the second stage of the ‘executive’ part of the Southern Route Project took place in Kenya. A DCSA delegation participated in two mentoring days and two operational days, with the Kenyan police. The activities took place respectively at the Nairobi airport and at the commercial port in Mombasa, two strategic hubs of the Southern Route. These operational initiatives were attended by : the pro tempore Director of the I Service , Dir. Sup. P. di S. Dott. Emilio Russo; the Captain of the G. di F. Alberto Cirafici  (Nairobi); the Director of the 1^ Division of the III Service, Primo Dirigente P. di S. Alessandra Ortenzi; the V.Q.A. P. di S. Andrea Carabei (Mombasa). DCSA officers were assisted by DCSA Law Enforcement Attachè at the Italian Embassy in Nairobi, V.Q. P. di S. Marco Azzaron and supported by  DCSA staff.  Col. Fabrizio Musci, commander of the Fiumicino Guardia di Finanza Group and Lt. Col. Danilo Persano, commander of the  Gioia Tauro G. di F. Group participated – as experts in antidrug operational measures/ systems in  airports and ports – in the mentoring days and operational controls carried out at the airport and port by the Kenyan authorities, in the presence of DCSA officers.

The Vice Chief of Police and Director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations ( DCI ) of Kenya, Mohamed Ibrahim Amin Ali – who last April visited DCSA – participated in the opening of the works, which underlined the importance of the days of discussion and exchange also from an operational point of view.

During the monitoring and operational days  DCSA experts outlined the fundamental investigative coordination action carried out  by the Central Directorate for Antidrug Services in the field of drug trafficking – one of the most long-standing  and  successful inter-agency initiatives within the national law enforcement agencies – pointing out that DCSA was the first national structure  to second its own  Liaison Officers, as ‘Experts’,   to international crossroads of drug production, transit and illicit trafficking. Such L.O. primarily promote police cooperation against drug trafficking and carry out study, observation and liaison activities with the foreign counterparts. 

 Moreover, DCSA experts hilighted that international police cooperation plays a decisive role and has become a necessary backbone of the security system of the states, due to the need to combat increasingly pervasive criminal phenomena, including drug trafficking. Furthermore, they illustrated  fundamental aspects characterising DCSA : the operational coordination of the so-called special operations (undercover operations and controlled deliveries), as well as its  role of national contact point for the requests (under Article 17 of the 1988 UN Convention) to board vessels suspected of carrying drugs in international waters. The experts from the Guardia di Finanza analysed in depth the operational aspects of the control and fight against drug trafficking through ports and airports (expertise/best practices) and the special operations: undercover activities and controlled deliveries. In addition to anti-drug investigation techniques, they illustrated the tools used in preventive control activities carried out at ports and airports, focusing on the best practices developed in the in-depth risk analysis of the so-called ‘suspect’ elements – relating to containers, passengers and luggage  carried out to identify  targets(human and/or commercial) to be subjected to drug control and inspection. The different methods of concealment of drugs transported by air and sea were also illustrated.


At the close of the works, participants expressed their satisfaction with the fruitful activities developed during the initiative, which opens up new perspectives for an ever closer anti-drug cooperation between the countries involved, which is necessary to deal with a global threat, going beyond borders and affecting everyone.


Investigation supported by Europol and part of EMPACT actions (European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats, created with the aim of strengthening intelligence, strategic and operational cooperation between national authorities, EU institutions and bodies and international partners).

At the end of complex investigations, on February 23, the Spanish Guardia Civil, with Europol and intelligence support from the Central Directorate for AntiDrug Services, dismantled an international drug trafficking criminal organization composed of Italians in Spain.  The operation led to the arrest of 20 members of the criminal network – also composed of Albanian, Spanish and Moroccan nationals – and the seizure of more than 2 tons of narcotics and assets, proceeds of the illegal activity, exceeding 5.5 million euros.

The leaders of the organization, who are Italian nationals, have currently managed to escape by using false documents, and European arrest orders have been issued for them. The proceeds of drug trafficking were laundered through the use of false invoices and forms of payment through shell companies involved in drug trafficking and through real estate investments and luxury goods.

The investigation was launched in late 2021, following the discovery of a shipment of hashish concealed inside a truck transporting pallets. In 2022, Law Enforcement also intercepted an offshore vessel chartered by the organization with nearly 200 kg of hashish on board. To avoid further seizures, the drug traffickers had built a laboratory for drug production and set up a large marijuana plantation in southeastern Spain.

Below is the text of the press release issued by Europol, on the outcome of the operation:

20 suspected money launderers and drug traffickers arrested

Spanish law enforcement seized more than EUR 5.5 million in assets; criminals had built drug production infrastructure

A joint investigation supported by Europol has led to the arrest of 20 suspected money launderers and drug traffickers. The operation was led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, with support from the Italian Central Directorate for Anti-Drugs Services (Direzione Centrale Servizi Antidroga), and resulted in the seizure of more than EUR 5.5 million in criminal assets and over 2 tons of drugs. Based in the South of Spain, the criminal network was composed of Albanian, Italian, Spanish and Moroccan nationals, and was led by Italian nationals who evaded capture using forged identity documents.











Results of the operation include:

  • 6 houses searched in Seville, Spain
  • 20 suspects arrested
  • assets seized worth an estimated at EUR 5.5 million
  • 2 luxury watches and EUR 16 545 in cash seized
  • 2 500 kilograms of hashish and 45.6 kilograms of marijuana seized
  • criminal infrastructure seized including lorries, a boat, tools for marijuana cultivation and hashish production, and 34 mobile phones
  • large marijuana plantation and drug lab discovered
  • forged travel and identification documents seized

Criminals relied on false identities

As the Italian leaders of the criminal network were subjects of European Arrest Orders, they used falsified documents to veil their identities. Residing in towns between Seville and Malaga, they attempted to avoid detection by taking various security measures and by frequently changing their addresses.

The criminal network used a variety of money laundering methods to obfuscate their drug trafficking proceeds. These included the channelling of money – through business bank accounts using fake invoices, loans, or other debts – among a network of companies involved in the transport of drugs. Other methods used were investments in luxury real estate, rentals, luxury goods and vehicles, as well as cash payments.

Drug lab and marijuana plantation

Investigations in this case were kicked off in October 2021, when a hashish shipment was found hidden in a lorry transporting pallets of onions. Law enforcement arrested the two drivers and seized 468 kilograms of hashish. This was followed by another seizure of 194 kilograms of hashish and 30 kilograms of marijuana in May 2022. In the same month a boat chartered by the criminal organisation was intercepted by law enforcement on the open sea, resulting in the arrest of its three occupants, as well as the seizure of 1 800 kilograms of hashish and the vessel itself.

The interception of this large shipment from Morocco shows that is has become increasingly difficult for criminals to import drugs via the sea. To circumvent this issue, the organisation had built a laboratory for hashish production and set up a large marijuana plantation in southern Spain. These were discovered in the course of the operation, which involved more than 150 law enforcement officials. Europol provided operational expertise as well as analytical and operational support from the very beginning of the investigation. Furthermore, a Europol specialist was deployed on location in Spain during the main action day.


The European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) tackles the most important threats posed by organised and serious international crime affecting the EU. EMPACT strengthens intelligence, strategic and operational cooperation between national authorities, EU institutions and bodies, and international partners. EMPACT runs in four-year cycles focusing on common EU crime priorities.

The conference “The Italian Approach” took place in Rotterdam/The Netherlands on 4-5 October. It was attended by Italian and Dutch Authorities and was dedicated to the Italian approach to prevention and fight against mafia-type organised crime, with a particular focus on the infiltration of Italian criminal groups into the economic and infrastructural assets of major strategic importance in the country.

This meeting, which was strongly urged by the Minister of Justice and Security of the Netherlands, Yeṣilgöz-Zegerius, was attended by Italian leading experts in the fight against mafias, who exchanged views with high-level Dutch experts, including officials and staff from the Dutch police, the FIOD (Fiscal Information and Investigation Service), the Judicial Authority and the Ministry of Justice and Security of the Netherlands. The two-day meeting illustrated the historical, regulatory and operational features of Italy’s long-standing experience in the fight against the mafia, with the contribution of blood paid by ‘men of justice’, among whom Judges Falcone and Borsellino with their lesson: working in international cooperation and attacking the mafias’ illicit assets – the well-known ‘follow the money’ principle. Specifically, the following topics were examined in depth, also from a transnational perspective: anti-mafia administrative documentation in preventing and combating organised crime; the fight against organised crime and the double-track system involving law enforcement and asset-related  preventive measures; the anti-drug policy developed at national and international level by Italy and the activities related to prevention and fight against criminal organisations. In addition to the instrument of asset prevention measures, the Dutch authorities also required a special discussion on the special prison regime (41 bis) envisaged for mafia detainees, the protection measures envisaged for cooperating witnesses managed by the Department of Public Security through the Central Office for Personal Security and the Central Protection Service (DCPC). The Director of DCSA – Lieutenant General of G. di F. Antonino Maggiore – attended the Symposium,  along with  the Head of the Operational Service  – Brigadier General CC Giancarlo Scafuri.

The delegation of the Department of Public Security, headed by the Deputy Chief of Police Vittorio Rizzi, was composed of the heads and officials  of the above mentioned Department. In particular, the Director of the Office for Coordination and Planning of the Police Forces, Vittorio Lapolla, focused on anti-mafia documentation for preventing and combating organised crime, measures provided for by the Anti Mafia Code – a special national legislation-; while the Director of the Central Anticrime Directorate of the State Police (DAC) Francesco Messina analysed in depth the Italian double-track system attacking the military structure and the illicit assets of the mafias. In particular, the fight against the Italian mafias is oriented on two levels, to hit both the ‘social’ control that they exercise with military instruments and the economic-financial power derived from the huge profits of criminal activities, ‘which also becomes political power’. Moreover, it was highlighted that camorra, ‘ndrangheta, cosa nostra, Apulian mafia, aside from being well rooted in the territory, have delocalised their activities in other countries and operate worldwide, especially in drug trafficking, with their own affiliates. This is why  the joint ventures between the police forces and the Judicial Authorities of different states are increasingly necessary. Afterwards, the Director of the Central Directorate for Antidrug Services Antonino Maggiore gave an insight into the drug policy developed at national and international level through the DCSA, while the Director of the Antimafia Investigation Directorate (DIA) Maurizio Vallone outlined the national anti-money laundering mechanism against mafia criminal organisations.

In his speech, the DCSA Director, General Maggiore, initially described the architecture of the Italian anti-drug system, developed on two complementary levels – political and operational – by drug  prevention and law enforcement players. On the demand side, the main role is played by the Department for Anti-drug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – a coordinating body of the activities of prevention, care, treatment and social and work reintegration of drug addicts – while, in the supply reduction sector, a fundamental function is performed by the Police Forces carrying out anti-drug  activities and, in this context, a central role is assigned to the DCSA – a national and international info-investigative coordination body, also providing technical and economic support  to the investigations. Director Maggiore outlined the crucial co-ordination action carried out by DCSA in the drug trafficking sector, one of the longest and most successful inter-agency initiatives within the national police forces.  In particular, Director Maggiore focused on the network of law enforcement attachés posted abroad at international crossroads of drug production, transit and illicit trafficking. They promote police cooperation against drug trafficking as a priority and carry out study, observation and liaison activities with relevant foreign agencies. In this context, the need to ensure that drug trafficking investigations were always conducted on an international scope in order to disrupt criminal associations in the territories of all states involved was emphasised.

The management and coordination of information flows and the work of the law enforcement attachés are the key elements of international cooperation, reflecting the central role of DCSA in the fight against drug trafficking. Lastly, the establishment of the operational section “Drug@online”, within DCSA, was also mentioned. Such section is in charge of monitoring the Internet, in order to coordinate law enforcement activities against illicit the drug trade carried out by traffickers using the potential offered by the web.

During the two-day event, nine thematic workshops were held, attended by qualified experts from the Italian police forces (DCSA, DCPC, UCIS, DIA, DAC, ROS and SCICO). During such workshops the most significant areas related to preventing and combating criminal organisations and drug trafficking were discussed in depth with Dutch police and judiciary representatives, through technical-operational insights.

The discussions and exchanges developed during these technical working groups focused on the investigation methodologies developed in Italy in the fight against mafias and drug trafficking, on the investigation techniques and the particular tools available and used, on the synergic sharing of information and good practices that results in concrete police and judicial cooperation, a successful weapon for an effective fight against crime.

DCSA actively participated in the workshop on “data sharing”, which was repeated twice during the day, with an intervention by the Head of the Operational Service, General Scafuri.   Brigadier General G. di F. Giampiero Ianni, Director of the SCIP (International Police Cooperation Service)- DCPC (Central Directorate of Criminal Police) took part in the same working group with the Dutch colleagues. The main topics were the centralisation and specialisation of information flows, which are necessary preconditions for the initiation and development of international police and judicial cooperation in the fight against mafias and drug trafficking.

General Scafuri examined in depth the issue “Fight against drug trafficking: the operational coordination methods ”. In his speech he underlined, in particular , the importance and need for the circulation and exchange of operational information among investigators. He provided practical examples of joint investigations, proving the effectiveness of police and judicial information flow sharing, at national and international levels, in the fight against international drug trafficking and mafia-type organized crime involved.

Moreover, he illustrated the unique nature of the Italian system that envisages the investigative coordination of the various national police forces in the anti-drug sector by DCSA. The work of DCSA in this area is fundamental, both at the ”internal” and ”external” level, as it is the only central Italian body that has the task of receiving and sharing all information on drug trafficking, as well as coordinating the police forces cooperating with foreign authorities. In this context, the contribution of the network of law enforcement attachés is also valuable, in particular those from DCSA, located in areas of different continents, that are strategic for the fight against drug trafficking. DCSA, through a constant dialogue and operational exchange with all countries involved, aims to increasingly strengthen cooperation in the fight against drugs.

The information ‘exchanged’ – delivered, received and processed – is the necessary input to initiate investigations in one’s own country, to develop joint investigative activities and to organise special operations – controlled deliveries and undercover activities – which, apart from leading to drug seizures, are valuable tools for dismantling the criminal organisations managing the drug trade and the enormous profits derived from it. The issue of tackling mafia assets, the proceeds of illicit trafficking, was in fact another topic covered during the debate. Italy hits such assets with the well-known double-track system established by a dedicated law: preventive and criminal seizures and confiscations.  At the same workshop, the Director of the DCPC- SCIP talked about “data sharing at the International Police Cooperation Service”, in which he illustrated the great potential of national information systems in relation to the general exchange of info-investigative news with foreign police forces, which is necessary for international police cooperation in various crime areas. In his context, the effectiveness of the project I – CAN (Interpol Cooperation Against ‘Ndrangheta) was highlighted. Such project was set up by an agreement  between the Department of Public Security and Interpol, signed by 11 countries, with the aim of increasing international police cooperation in the fight against the ‘ndrangheta.

The Deputy Chief of Police, Prefect Vittorio Rizzi took the floor, closing the Italian delegation’s speeches. His intervention was focused on the fight against organized crime and the antimafia method. He stressed the need to increasingly strengthen cooperation and operational collaboration between states, as an indispensable tool to effectively steer preventive and law enforcement action.

In this context, the exchange of different professional skills and experiences between countries is of fundamental importance, as well as the sharing of best practices, in order to develop a unified and successful anti-crime strategy, which in any case protects human rights, those fundamental rights recognised by national and international legal systems in defence of the dignity and equality of all men.  Prefect Rizzi concluded that the symposium is an excellent example of how fruitful cooperation between Italy and the Netherlands can be, exactly because it is not limited to discussion and exchange of information on the different criminal and judicial regulatory systems, but is aimed at the dialogue and operational exchange of best practices between the two countries. This is of fundamental importance in the fight against mafias, their illicit trafficking, among which drug trafficking is the most important, and the laundering and re-utilisation of the proceeds of their criminal activities.

At the end of the conference, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice expressed her appreciation for the success of the event and for the excellent cooperation between Italy and the Netherlands, and thanked the Italian authorities.

The Minister publicised the eventon social media and posted a message on Linkedin, which is quoted below: “Unfortunately, Italy has extensive experience with the destructive power of organized crime. The mafia has been around for hundreds of years. In the 1970s and 1980s, the mafia believed itself to be untouchable. Increasingly, people from the upper world also had to pay the price, such as judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Those murders caused a great social outcry. And then for an acceleration of the mafia approach. A more effective, stricter approach with new instruments, measures and legislation.
During my visits to Italy, I became even more aware of their approach to serious crime. What struck me most there was the broad scope with which Italians view the problem. We have also made steps in this direction in recent years and we must continue to do so. Specifically, I want to improve the crown witness scheme, confiscate even more criminal assets and focus even more on tackling entire networks and criminal power structures. Not only the leaders, but also the assistants need to be tackled.
Today I was at a unique meeting of Italian and Dutch people from the investigation. This symposium in the Netherlands shows how close our ties are with Italy and how well there is cooperation in the investigation. I am incredibly proud of that.

During the two-day meeting, the Italian authorities visited the Rotterdam port facilities and had the opportunity to see closely its extent and complex nature from the point of view of controls and international criminal infiltration.

Indeed, the large size and logistical structure of this port represent a constant challenge for the investigators engaged in the fight against drug trafficking, a challenge in which the constant effort deployed can  be more effective only if carried out through international cooperation.












In the contest of the International Cooperation, from 27 to 28 January, in the Headquarter of the Central Anti-Drug Directory (DCSA), an important training for law enforcements on RELIEF database took place with the support of IPSG. 13 Officers from DCSA and 1 from NCB Rome attended the training. Two Offficers from IPSG explained the RELIEF database that collect and analyze marks and images on bricks and pills of drugs during the packaging. Modalities to implement and to consult RELIEF database were shown during the training.

The initiative in argument, born from the training project on this new INTERPOL tools and involving different Countries, showed the great utility and the potential of RELIEF, useful in anti-drugs activity conducted by LEs around the world.

The Italian support is very important in the implementation of this database, thanks to the data from the Italian drug seizures and in particular regarding marks. These data could be shared and compared with foreign LEs to obtain a shared heritage of information, very useful for an efficient international cooperation in the fight against drugs trafficking.  









Europol, the Agency with which DCSA effectively cooperates in the antidrug sector advised, through the Member States National Units, that they have been made aware of online frauds (Scam) to citizens of several European countries. Such frauds are illegitimately carried out by sending emails or messages on social media , using the names of Europol ‘s Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director.

Europol drew up the following warning message, already published on its site, asking to widely disseminate it within the member States.:

 “Europol has been made aware of scams using the names of their Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director as well as various international Law Enforcement officials. Emails or messages on social  media, written in different languages, use the Europol logo, the name of Catherine De Bolle and/or Jean-Philippe Lecouffe to make it sound serious and legitimate. Don’t be misled- this correspondence is fake. Neither Europol ‘s Executive  Director nor the Deputy Executive Director would directly contact members of the public requesting an immediate action or threatening individuals with opening a criminal investigation.

If  you  receive  a  suspicious  email  or  correspondence  using  the  name  of  Europol’s  Executive Director or Deputy Executive Director, please report the matter to your local Law Enforcement Authority for further  investigation. ”                                   ·

“The Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga of the Department of Public Security- that this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of its establishment, occurred in 1991- on 18 June, 2021, in the eve of the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, published its “Annual Report, summarizing the activities carried out and the results achieved in Italy in 2020.

The Director of the Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga, Lt. General of the Guardia di Finanza Antonino Maggiore, outlined the activities carried out and the results achieved, in the De Sena Room of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police (……)

With respect to the past years, the distinguishing feature of 2020 was the Covid-19 health emergency.  The measures taken at global level to contain the contagion, led to restrictions on people’s mobility and a slowdown in the dynamics of international trade and have also had an impact on drug trafficking that has always taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the transnational movement of goods, to move large-scale drug consignments. The resumption of trade in the second half of the 2020 and the remarkable ability of the criminal organizations to adapt to the different socio-economic context have quickly revived trade after an initial slowdown.

The response of the law enforcement agencies was effective: the amount of antidrug operations coordinated and supported by DCSA (approximately 23,000), is in line with last decade’s average as is the number of reports to the Judicial authorities (approx. 33,000), while drug seizures, 58 tons in total, were higher than in 2019(+7.41%).

The absolute record of cocaine seizures is particularly striking. Such seizures amounted to 13.4 tons, with an increase of 62.2% with respect to 2019, a year in which the record figure of 8.2 tonnes had been registered at national level.

Most of the seizures were carried out in ports, approximately the half of them occurred in Gioia Tauro. The figures related to the first months of this year seem to confirm this growing trend, with a consistently high level of cocaine seizures. Furthermore, the analysis of the operational activities shows a possible reshaping of cocaine trafficking routes, in which Italy is at the crossroads with the Balkan peninsula, as demonstrated by numerous international controlled deliveries of drugs destined for the countries in that area, where organized criminal groups with a consolidated leading role  in the drug trafficking operate, developing important “joint ventures” with South American cartels. The Calabrian ‘ndrangheta, operating in cooperation with other national mafia type organizations and foreign groups, confirmed its leading role in the of international cocaine trafficking.

Despite a clear reduction in the detected shipments, cannabis remains the most widely seized drug, with 29.6 tons and 414,396 plants, which demonstrates a high level of demand.

Compared to the average of the last five years, heroin seizures remained stable (amounting to approx. half a tonne), although lower than in 2019.

Synthetic drugs seizures registered a massive increase in quantities, mainly due to a single operation occurred in the Salerno port. Such operation led to the detection of over 14 tons of amphetamines, probably destined for foreign markets. Synthetic drugs consumption at national level, although still limited and not comparable with the one of traditional drugs, is growing among young people who use the web and social platforms to purchase drugs in the digital drug markets. Illicit substances are delivered at home in different ways, such as by pushers disguised as delivery men or through other disguising methods.

Moreover, in 2020 the law enforcement agencies intercepted 33 new non-scheduled substances, that will be included in the tables of controlled substances.

The decrease of overdose deaths is worth of attention. After three years of continuous growth, in 2020 they were 308, with a decrease of 66units, with respect to 2019 ( -17.65%).

In the year under review, drug trafficking was confirmed as “the main driving force for all illegal activities carried out by the large criminal syndicates”, with huge profits to be laundered and used to self-finance further illegal activities.

Effective international cooperation in the drug trafficking sector has continued. It involved organizations, European and non-European countries and was carried out  through Antidrug  Operational Memorandums (AOM), technical protocols aimed  at encouraging special antidrug operations.

Law Enforcement Attachès posted in strategic drug trafficking areas made an appreciable contribution, both in terms of information flows and promotion of cooperation initiatives with producing and transit countries.


In 2020 the projects “ICARUS” and “HERMES” were further developed. These projects stemmed from the inter-institutional cooperation between the Department for Antidrug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (DPA) in the demand and supply reduction and prevention fields. Within “ICARUS”, the project “Southern Route” was set up with the Central Directorate of Criminal Police and Interpol. It is aimed at strengthening police cooperation with South-eastern African countries, a new transit area of the Afghan heroin. In the framework of “HERMES”, the guidelines for new operational methods to counteract synthetic drugs trade carried out through postal shipments run by public and private couriers, were outlined. Such guidelines will contribute to the strengthening of the National Early Warning System of the DPA.



Last February  a two-day meeting took place, which was organized in cooperation by the Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga and the Department of Antidrug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

This meeting gathered together the Heads of the Antidrug Agencies of the countries mostly involved in the fight against drug trafficking and production as well as in the main transport routes. It was also attended by Italian and foreign Prosecutors and top level representatives of the leading International organizations.


This event allowed a direct contact among participants and facilitated an open and constructive analysis of the numerous operational difficulties as well as the sharing of good practices, so to achieve  more and more effective results in the field of cooperation, and in the activities of drug prevention and fight. In this framework, the guidelines indicating a common commitment, were  expressed in the Outcome declaration.

The meeting was successfull at national and international levels and   we are now publishing,  in Italian    and English, the conference proceedings drawn up by DC.S.A.




A parallel contagion:

Is mafia entrepreneurship exploiting the pandemic?

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) . A parallel contagion:  Chapter I – 22 April 2020 Concerned with reports of the Mafia’s exploitation of the current global crisis, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) has had the privilege of bringing together four leading figures in Italy’s fight against the mafia for a virtual roundtable to discuss how the mafia is repositioning itself during the pandemic, what the implications are and how the Italian government is responding;  Chapter II – 11 June 2020  With regard to mafia activity in the context of the pandemic, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) has carried out research into mafia involvement in three key sectors: Healthcare system, Prisons, Welfare provision ;  Chapter III – 11 June 2020 In these interviews with Italian anti-mafia and organized-crime experts, we explore various ways in which mafia groups in Italy and overseas are exploiting the economic conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic – from providing so-called mafia welfare services to capturing sectors of the legal economy, drug trafficking and money laundering. The interviews are a sequel to our virtual roundtable with four leading figures in Italy’s fight against the mafia, which discusses how the mafia is repositioning itself during the pandemic.   We feature interviews with: Roberto Tartaglia, anti-mafia magistrate and the Deputy Head of the Dipartimento Amministrazione Penitenziaria, Italy’s prison administration department; Raffaele Cantone, anti-mafia magistrate and former President of the Italian Anti-Corruption National Authority (2014–2019); Giuseppe Cucchiara, Director, anti-drugs services at Italy’s Department for Public Security, part of the Interior Ministry, a role he has held since 2017; Marcello Minenna, Director of the Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency.   The interviews were led by Sergio Nazzaro, a journalist, writer and adviser to the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission. Since November 2018, Nazzaro has served as the spokesperson for both the president of the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission and Italy’s Deputy Minister of the Interior. In January 2020, he was appointed voluntary spokesperson for Italy’s Deputy  Minister of Health for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Nazzaro is a member of the GI-TOC Network of Experts.

A PARALLEL CONTAGION   c. III  Exploiting the pandemic, the mafia way     

 From c.III : Interview with Giuseppe Cucchiara, Director  anti-drugs services -Dep. Public Security- Interior Ministry-Italy.

NAZZARO: What has happened to drug trafficking while the world has been disrupted by the pandemic? Has the drug trade stopped, or has it merely changed its spots?

CUCCHIARA: The virus’s rapid diffusion throughout much of the world is influencing lifestyles, economies, institutions and many other factors, which have negative consequences both for the people’s everyday life and for governments. The virus has also affected drug trafficking which, although an illicit activity, is a trade whose performance largely depends on the normative functioning of legitimate economies around the world. When an interruption occurs along the global supply chains and transport networks, as is happening now with COVID-19, major criminal organizations and their drug-trafficking activities are affected. Think, for example, about drug manufacturing processes in clandestine labs that need specific products as inputs, which are hardly accessible even in normal market conditions. Another problem facing criminal organizations is related to the transportation phase and its mechanisms. The main drug trafficking routes to Europe are from Latin America for cocaine, and from the east, especially Afghanistan, for opiates. In my opinion, cocaine trafficking is still the major source of income for Italian criminal organizations, especially the ‘Ndrangheta. For this reason, I pay special attention to cocaine trafficking, which is predominantly shipped by sea. The cocaine shipping traffic has contracted, as has trade in legal commodities from Latin America, owing to the pandemic. Given the current restrictions, criminal organizations are looking to different modes of transport. As for street-level drug dealing, restrictions on people’s freedom of movement have led to the development of new ways of operating for dealers and their markets. In Italy, we have witnessed dealers disguised as delivery drivers, others using car-sharing or taxis. While street drug dealing is developing new dynamics, the international drug supply trade has found itself in deep trouble, mainly because the routes for shipping drugs from one hemisphere to the other have been cut off. Containment measures adopted by numerous governments following the pandemic have resulted, according to our data, in a substantial decline in trafficking.

NAZZARO:  In Italy, given that the legal economy can slowly begin to resume now, will drug trafficking pick up again too?

CUCCHIARA:  It is still too early to tell, but it is not unreasonable to assume this might happen. And, as I mentioned, the Giuseppe Cucchiara Courtesy of the author 6 drug trade relies heavily on the healthy performance of licit trade. During this period, legal activities have almost ground to a halt, and this has had repercussions for drug trafficking as well. We need to be circumspect here. The so-called phase 2 of lockdown is currently in place in Italy, but drug trafficking is affected by controls and restrictions in other countries too. For instance, in Peru, security measures adopted in regions where there is a large concentration of cocaine plantations have made it much more difficult for criminal organizations to source chemical precursors that are used in cocaine production. This has caused production to drop. There is a market surplus of coca leaf production, but a shortage of precursors that are needed as inputs for cocaine production, and this has led to a drastic decrease in prices for coca, from about 60 euros to 10 euros for 1.5 kilograms. This has repercussions for the trafficking business: before the pandemic, the wholesale cocaine price in Peru fluctuated between $900 and $1 000 per kilogram; today it currently stands at around $400 per kilogram. So, we will have to wait for other countries to begin easing their economic restrictions to get a better picture of what will happen to drug trafficking here in Italy. What we do know about the trafficking market is that cocaine that is already in circulation in the supply chain in Italy – and in Europe in general – has increased in value because of the current reduced supply in the production markets. We have recorded a 30% rise in the price of cocaine both already present in Europe and for the small amounts that do manage to get shipped from Latin America. In the near future, we expect that the reduced supply of drugs will prompt a further increase in prices. We will be able to see it in the coming weeks.

NAZZARO: Given the disruptive effect the pandemic has had on the drug trade, is this an opportunity for national and international law enforcement to deal a heavy blow to criminal organizations?

CUCCHIARA: International law-enforcement agencies do play a role. But the truth is, the problem first needs to be addressed in the countries where drugs are produced. What concrete action can international agencies take? In Europe, for instance, we deal with product that passes through our borders, but the heavy blow you refer to should be dealt by the producing countries in Latin America – and this lies outside of our scope. Interestingly, Albanian organized-crime groups have stepped up the trafficking of drugs to Italy using routes across the Adriatic. On 10 April, 20 kilograms of heroin and cocaine concealed in a truck were seized in Bari, while, more recently, the authorities intercepted another sizeable shipment of cocaine coming from Albania. In cases like these, when countries are geographically close, collaboration between the police agencies that specialize in countering organized crime is easier and more effective. However, when the commodity is coming from more distant countries, things get complicated.

NAZZARO: In this context of cohabitation with the virus, how are criminal organizations adapting and taking advantage of the emergency situation?

CUCCHIARA: Criminal organizations are extremely flexible. In Italy, mafia groups have made canny, timely investments in, for example, the agriculture and food sectors, the provision of medicines, medical equipment and healthcare products, as well as the funeral industry, cleaning services, waste management and road transport. Mafia groups are known to be highly adept at restructuring and adapting. However, the COVID-19 health emergency has given law-enforcement agencies the opportunity, once activity fully resumes, to have a considerable impact on the drug supply chain. And that means making life difficult for criminal organizations. Although the transnational drug trade depends on a number of external factors, domestic distribution has different dynamics, and in a period of tighter controls, it could suffer a tough blow.

NAZZARO: With regard to drug trafficking, what role does the Italian market and, more generally, the European one, play in the global context?

CUCCHIARA: Italy is predominantly a drug destination market, not a production market; it has high levels of consumption, from synthetic drugs to traditional ones. Italy’s geographic position in Europe makes its ports key sorting centres for traffic destined elsewhere, thus making Italy a transit country too. However, this is true for most coastal European states. Large criminal organizations such as the ‘Ndrangheta – which is considered the global broker of cocaine destinated for Europe – move huge amounts of drugs destined for European states. The ‘Ndrangheta could be behind shipments arriving at any number of Italian or other European ports – Gioia Tauro, Genoa, Antwerp or Rotterdam, for example.

NAZZARO: According to some, during the financial crisis of 2007–2008 the proceeds of drug trafficking allegedly helped sustain a portion of the Italian economy, increasing the level of underworld infiltration into the legal economy. Do you believe there are, at present, the preconditions for a similar situation to recur?

CUCCHIARA: This is a risk that exists, and I would extend it from the threat of drug trafficking to the threat of the mafia presence more generally. It is evident that in the postemergency phase, the threat posed by the mafia could really escalate. Mafia organizations have at their disposal an enormous amount of illicit resources that they can inject into the legal economy at a time where the private sector, in particular small and medium enterprises, are facing a liquidity crisis. Here, the so-called mafia welfare, widely discussed elsewhere, could become a reality. I agree with those who believe the current period brings a genuine risk of further criminal infiltration into corporate structures and the legal economy in general, by providing the necessary liquidity or through loan sharking. In the post-emergency phase, mafias may very well consolidate their presence in the legal economy, and at the same time leverage the level of social consensus that they enjoy.



Copyright@2019 DCSA | All Rights Reserved