Andrea Grassi, a police chief in charge of the two-year investigation, told Italian news channel SkyTG24 that 26 people were arrested and 40 more placed under investigation in Italy and the United States.
Eight of the people arrested are alleged members of the Gambinos – one of the "five families" that have traditionally controlled the mafia in New York.
Other arrests were carried out in the Calabria region in southern Italy, the bastion of the 'Ndrangheta mafia which plays a lynchpin role in the global cocaine trade.
"The charges range from mafia association to international drug trafficking to money laundering," Grassi said.
"This investigation reveals a criminal relationship between a 'Ndrangheta family and the Gambino family in New York," he said.
The investigation found that drugs from South America transited through the container port of Gioia Tauro in Calabria, hidden in cans of fruit.