Authorities in the U.S. and Italy say they have broken up a drug ring connecting two major mafia groups.
Officials announced the sting operation at a joint news conference Tuesday in Rome, saying the new smuggling ring linked Italy's powerful Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta organization with New York City's Gambino crime family.
The alliance was reportedly aimed at moving cocaine from South America to Italy, and heroin from Italy to the United States.
A total of at least 24 people have been arrested in Italy and New York. They face charges including drug trafficking and mafia association.
Using wiretapping and an undercover agent, authorities say they disrupted the planned shipment of some 500 kilograms of pure cocaine that was to be hidden and smuggled into Italy in cans of fruit from Guyana. Authorities also seized hundreds of thousands of dollars being laundered through the U.S. banking system.
Officials say the operation, dubbed "New Bridge," shows the 'Ndrangheta is working to expand its power in international drug trafficking beyond Italy's borders.