Authorities in Italy said phone messages received by a suspected drug trafficker in Peru contain the voice of an Italian criminal, a case further demonstrating the growth of ties between European and Latin American organized crime.
Italian police said the voice heard in recorded messages on a phone used by Gerald Oropeza Lopez, alias “Tony Montana,” is that of Italian drug trafficker Salvatore Zazo, alias “Zaza,” a member of the Camorra criminal organization currently incarcerated in the Secondigliano prison in Napoles, reported La Republica.
Oropeza -- who is currently facing drug trafficking charges in Peru -- is suspected of supplying cocaine to Zaza. Peruvian authorities obtained the recordings of Zaza directing and coordinating these shipments through Peru’s Callao port after seizing the cell phone of Oropeza’s right-hand man, Carlos Sulca Cruz.
In one of the messages, Zaza is heard saying, “Gerald, the boats for the 26 and the 4th of April are ready. Tell me if you want to work or not; if not, tell me now please, because I don’t like problems.”
According to La Republica, Zaza was arrested in Barcelona, Spain in January 2009, and extradited to Italy to serve a prison term on drug trafficking charges. Despite his imprisonment, Italian authorities acknowledged Zaza has been able to continue coordinating international drug shipments.
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Indeed, the large European drug market has been of growing importance for Latin American drug traffickers who have been establishing drug routes and creating alliances with groups such as Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia in order to traffic cocaine into the continent.
More evidence of these ties came this week when Colombian police -- in conjunction with Interpol -- arrested 22 people linked to drug trafficking that face extradition warrants in countries such as Spain, Italy, Brazil, Malta, and the United States. One of those arrested, Larry Yepes, is wanted for the trafficking of over 30 tons of cocaine into Spain, while another, Helmer Gonzalo Chavez Rusinque, has links to Italy’s Camorra.
Peru’s port of Callao has become an important jumping off point for South American cocaine headed to Europe and other international destinations, something that has led to increased violence as criminal groups compete for control of the port.