Italian agents on Tuesday confiscated 4.3 tons of cocaine with a street value of nearly a quarter-billion euros (dollars) in the northeastern port city of Trieste, dealing a blow to Colombia’s feared Gulf Clan drug cartel in one of the largest drug busts ever in Europe.
Arrest warrants were being executed for 38 people on suspicion of international drug trafficking in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Colombia. The seizure was carried out by Italian financial police and coordinated by anti-mafia investigators, following a yearlong investigation that also involved U.S. Homeland Security.
Last month, the Gulf Clan’s alleged boss was extradited from Colombia to the United States. Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, better known by the alias Otoniel, faces U.S. indictments in three federal courts. The Gulf Clan drug cartel shut down dozens of towns in northern Colombia for four days in reaction to the extradition.
Colombian President Iván Duque at the time of the extradition compared Otoniel to Pablo Escobar, the late former head of the Medellin drug cartel, calling him “the most dangerous drug trafficker in the world.” The former rural warlord had stayed on the run for more than a decade by corrupting state officials and aligning himself with combatants on the left and right.