Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2014 Contents CHARLES KONG SOO
University of the West Indies
(UWI) criminology lecturer Daurius
Figueira says the joint US-Italy
anti-mafia raids on the Italian
crime syndicate Ndrangheta and
the US Gambino and Bonanno
crime families means that Mexican
drug cartels are also operating in
Guyana, the Caribbean and in T&T.
Franco Lupoi is accused of plotting
to smuggle over 1,100 pounds of
cocaine concealed in frozen fish and
tinned pineapple juice, in shipping
containers from Guyana to Italy,
facilitated by connections with Mex-
ican drug cartels operating in
Shipping containers from the same
Guyanese shipping company were
seized in Malaysia and found to con-
tain more than US$7 million worth
of cocaine hidden in cans labelled
as coconut milk and pineapple by
law enforcement officials.
Figueira said, "The lesson for T&T
is that the Mexican cartels are in
Guyana and here also and this is the
first public admission by the US
authorities that you have Mexican
cartel operations in Guyana.
"Do you see the connection with
the Norfolk, Virginia, USA drug bust
where the cocaine was hidden in
In December, US authorities seized
more than $600 million worth of
cocaine that was found concealed
in cans marked Trinidad Fruit Juices
that were being shipped from
Trinidad to Norfolk.
"They did a variation, sending it
in liquid form in the pineapple juice
tins or frozen with the fish. This is
in keeping with their modus operandi
of shipping several container loads
at a time and they would have a cor-
rupt member in the Italian customs
in the Italian port who would clear
the drugs for them."
Figueira said it was not a coinci-
dence that the US Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA)---which has
agents in T&T at present investi-
gating into the Norfolk cocaine ship-
ment---was the same drug interdic-
tion organisation that revealed the
Mexican cartels were forming
alliances with Italian syndicates.
In 2008 the DEA revealed that
the Mexican Gulf cartel, which sup-
plies Dallas, USA with cocaine, was
working with New York associates
of the powerful Italian Ndrangheta
Figueira said the Zetas were called
by name by the Mexican newspaper
Milenio as the Mexican cartel that
rose to prominence in the interna-
tional drug trade with the help of
its growing links to the Ndrangheta
Italian mafia group.
Milenio reported that the links
between the Ndrangheta and the
Zetas had grown sharply in recent
years and said a new international
investigation demonstrated that the
Zetas had turned themselves into
the main suppliers of the Ndrangheta
by shipping cocaine through the US
and on to Italy.
Figueira said this was not the first
alliance between the Zetas and the
Ndrangheta. "Project Reckoning,"
also known as "Operation Solare"
in Italy, uncovered a sophisticated
drug trafficking structure between
the two groups in 2008.
He said the Zetas links to the
Ndrangheta and their growing influ-
ence in Europe further demonstrated
the Mexican cartels international
reach worldwide and the Caribbean
and T&T were not exempt.
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt February 23, 2014
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As part of operation "New Bridge," The US
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the
Italian police arrested members of the
powerful US Gambino and Bonanno crime
families in New York and the Ndrangheta
mafia in Italy for international drug
trafficking and organised crime in a co-
ordinated raid on February 11. The US
Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of
New York named the seven suspects as
Ndrangheta member Raffaele Valente,
Gambino associate Franco Lupoi, Bonanno
associate Charles Centaro, Dominic Ali,
Alexander Chan, Christos Fasarakis, and Jose
Alfredo Garcia. They were charged with drug
trafficking, money laundering and firearms
offences, "based in part on their participation
in a transnational heroin and cocaine-
trafficking conspiracy involving the
Ndrangheta, one of Italy's most powerful
organized crime syndicates," it said.
US Attorney Loretta Lynch said Gambino
mafiosi Lupoi together with the Ndrangheta
and the Gambino crime family sought to
move cocaine and heroin into the US under
the guise of legitimate shipping operations,
with the help of a corrupt official at the port
of Gioia Tauro, in Calabria, Italy.
Mexican drug cartels operating in Guyana, Caribbean and T&T
UWI criminology lecturer:
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