HomeNewsBriefDominican Republic Capture Points to Growing Italy Mafia Influence
BRIEF

Dominican Republic Capture Points to Growing Italy Mafia Influence

CARIBBEAN / 1 MAY 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Authorities in the Dominican Republic have arrested a key operative from Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia who was allegedly developing a cocaine trafficking route, underscoring the group's growing presence in this region.

Nicola Pignatelli was arrested on April 27 in the town of Juan Dolio, about 30 kilometers east of capital Santo Domingo. His capture was the result of a one-month intelligence operation coordinated by international police body Interpol in conjunction with Dominican and Italian police, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Pignatelli appeared on Italy's 100 most dangerous fugitives list and had previously been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for his involvement in criminal operations conducted by the Mazzaferro Ursino Aquino, a branch of the 'Ndrangheta. During the operation, authorities learned that Pignatelli maintained contact with Roberto Pannunzi, a powerful cocaine broker arrested in Colombia in 2013.

The Italian police had been searching for Pignatelli since 2011. He is currently being held in Santo Domingo awaiting deportation to his homeland.

InSight Crime Analysis

This capture provides the latest indication of the 'Ndrangheta's expanding influence in Latin America. In spring 2013, two high-level operatives of the group were captured in Colombia and in February this year, a billion dollar trafficking operation exporting cocaine from Guyana to the United States via Italy was busted. The 'Ndrangheta has also been linked to the Zetas in Mexico.

Considered Italy's most powerful organized crime group, the 'Ndrangheta reportedly controls 80 percent of cocaine entering their home country. In March it was reported that in 2013 the group earned up to $33.6 billion from drug trafficking alone.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of European Organized Crime

The Dominican Republic is a strategically important location for drug traffickers, acting as a transit point for cocaine heading to both the United States and Europe, so the apparent attempt by the 'Ndrangheta to establish a presence there is perhaps unsurprising.

The recent discovery of a cocaine lab, reportedly the largest ever found in the Caribbean, indicates that drugs are also being processed within the country.

The 'Ndrangheta's expansion in Latin America shows no signs of slowing down, and the organization's presence in the Dominican Republic likely represents a strategic effort to continue developing a global network reported to include 60,000 operatives across 30 countries. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 9 MAR 2022

The Dominican Republic has dismantled a transnational cybercrime network believed to have defrauded hundreds of US citizens to the tune…

CARIBBEAN / 11 FEB 2022

Latin American countries scored poorly on Transparency International’s latest corruption index, with the worst joining the ranks of war-torn nations…

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

The flow of cocaine to Europe may have suffered along with most licit businesses due to COVID-19.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…