Federal authorities in Brazil say they have identified a man who worked as a contact between Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia and Brazil's PCC criminal group -- allegedly the first time authorities have been able to establish a relationship between these two groups.
Estadão reported that Brazil's Public Prosecutor's Office (also known as the Public Ministry) filed a complaint that identified a man referred to as "Dido" as the primary contact between the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando Capital - PCC) and the Italian crime group.
The complaint stems from an operation carried out earlier this year in the country's largest port city, Santos, in the state of São Paulo, where federal police seized more than three tons of cocaine -- shipped into São Paulo from Bolivia -- and arrested nearly two dozen people. Several of those detained were alleged members of the PCC.
A federal police intelligence report dated in February, obtained by Estadão, reportedly tracked Dido's text messages with PCC members as they coordinated drug shipments from the port. In these messages, Dido said that the cocaine would first move through one of Italy's largest sea ports and was ultimately destined for Naples, a hub for European organized crime.
Estadão reported that Brazilian authorities cooperated with Italian police and US agency the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in investigating this cocaine trafficking operation.
InSight Crime Analysis
The massive seizure of cocaine from Santos earlier this year was an indication that the PCC is more than capable of running operations linked to the overseas drug trade, in addition to handling marijuana and cocaine shipments destined for regional and domestic markets.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime
The PCC would have had to rely on a knowledgeable contact on the European end in order to plan -- and if all had gone well, execute -- such a massive cocaine shipment. The 'Ndrangheta, which officials have said handles up to 80 percent of Italy-bound cocaine, has previously proven adept at establishing ties with Latin American criminal groups -- primarily in Colombia and Mexico, but also in other countries in the region. Earlier this year, Peru arrested an Italian national accused of moving cocaine from Latin America on the 'Ndrangheta's behalf, and more recently, an alleged top-ranking member of this group was arrested in Argentina.