Italian law enforcement officials, based on investigations by the Carabiniere and information shared by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), confirmed in late 2008 that Mexico's Los Zetas have strengthened ties with Mafioso organizations in Italy, in particular with the ‘Ndrangheta. These Italian mobsters are home based in the Reggio Calabria area of southern Italy.Since early last year the Carabiniere has been intercepting calls from people in the United States who are part of this transatlantic network that sends drugs from Mexico to Europe, according to a piece from the Mexican News service Apro (12/28/08).In February of this year, Apro editors reported that Nicola Gratteri, the city attorney of Reggio Calabria, said that the 'Ndrangheta mafia and Mexico's Gulf Cartel leaders communicate via Blackberries and SMS messaging. Gratteri refused to give additional details, telling the reporter he didn't want "to give the mafia suggestions."Antonio Nicaso, an expert on crime who has coauthored a new book on the Calabria mafia with Gratteri ("Blood Brothers"), added that the Mexican cartel and Italian mafia alliance is absolutely key. This because the 'Ndrangheta control all of the main seaports in Europe that are ports of entry for drugs, most of these being located in Spain and Holland, the Apro article said.Last August, in Toronto, Canada, a 42 year old 'Ndrangheta member named Guiseppe Collucio was arrested, and Italian authorities recognized him as one of those in charge of sending cocaine to Italy by way of South America, Apro reported. Collucio belongs to one of the 'Ndrangheta families that settled in Canada, and it was from there that he was in contact with Colombian drug lords in order to buy cocaine that was then shipped to Europe.
Following Collucio's arrest, his Italian clients became uneasy and they decided to change contacts. And 'Ndrangheta leaders in Italy put them in communication with Mexico's Gulf Cartel, according to Piero Grasso, Italy's Director of Public Prosecutions for Mafia Crimes."In Rome, Public Prosecutor Grasso declared: 'The novelty in this international operation is the narco starting point role that Mexico has assumed, replacing Colombia and becoming the major drug distributor in the world,'" the Apro piece concluded.