Joint U.S.-Italy raids net mafia big fish

Cbsnews.com THE OPERATION began just after 3 a.m. local time and invol­ved 100 Ita­lian poli­ce, along with FBI and Home­land Secu­ri­ty agen­ts. CBS News cor­re­spon­dent Allen Piz­zey wat­ched the raids play out in Ita­ly. The tar­ge­ts were mem­bers of the ndran­ghe­ta, con­si­de­red one of the most power­ful cri­me orga­ni­za­tions in the world. The ndran­ghe­ta are so clo­se­ly knit and so fea­red that they are almo­st impos­si­ble to infil­tra­te. That's why they have to be hit in the dead of night, under con­di­tions of abso­lu­te secre­cy – and fast. The prin­ci­pal focus was a mode­st apart­ment; an unli­ke­ly end point, says Piz­zey, for a drug ring that invol­ved hand-car­ry­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to Cen­tral Ame­ri­ca to pay drug lords. 

The pivot point was a piz­za par­lor in Queens, New York. The father, mother and son who ran it are now in custo­dy. The pri­me catch in the Ita­lian raid was Fran­co Fazio, but he see­med almo­st amu­sed. "Ah, so the TVs are here, too?" he said. "Now the Naples mafia will see me." Fazio is kno­wn as "The Ambas­sa­dor" becau­se of his role in the smug­gling chain. And in spi­te of the ndrangheta's repu­ta­tion for vio­len­ce, the raid went off without a gun dra­wn. The senior FBI case agent, who can­not be iden­ti­fied, said Fazio is in for a sur­pri­se – he's facing up to 10 years in jail in the U.S. "In his mind, he thinks he's inno­cent and he can pro­ve that. I don't think kno­ws the over­whel­ming evi­den­ce that we have in this case," the FBI case agent said. 

Last Februa­ry, Ita­lian poli­ce and FBI agen­ts in Ita­ly con­duc­ted a major joint ope­ra­tion that rob­bed the ndran­ghe­ta cri­me syn­di­ca­te and the U.S. Sici­lian Mafia of a new drug smug­gling rou­te from Latin Ame­ri­ca into Euro­pe. U.S. offi­cials told CBS News FBI agen­ts arre­sted seven peo­ple in the New York area raids in con­nec­tion with that ope­ra­tion. Coo­pe­ra­tion bet­ween Ita­lian poli­ce, the FBI and Home­land Secu­ri­ty won high prai­se from the Ita­lian offi­cer in ove­rall char­ge of the late­st ope­ra­tion. "This is only one of the suc­cess of this coo­pe­ra­tion," he told Piz­zey. In the past, he said, the­re have been "lots of suc­cess." They hope, he said, it will be an ongoing pro­cess.

© 2015 CBS Inte­rac­ti­ve Inc. All Rights Reser­ved.

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