In addition to the arrests police carried over 40 searches across northern Italy and seized €1 million in assets, Tgcom24 reported.
The drug money was traced to a company with its headquarters in the historical centre of Venice.
Traffickers operating from the watery city used various means of transport to channel huge quantities of cocaine into Venice and the north of Italy, Corriere della Sera said.
Some of those involved had previously been tied to the Brenta mafia organization which used to operate in Italy’s north-east. The police investigation was started in 2013 and involved around 200 officers, Corriere said.
Cocaine trafficking in Italy is dominated by the ‘Ndrangheta mafia of the southern Calabria region. The Venice drug ring was not said to have ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, which is known to operate in northern Italy and has become one of the world’s most powerful criminal associations.
Italy has a large domestic cocaine market but is also used as an entry point to other countries, the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, said in a report last year.
Introducing the report Cecilia Malmström, then EU home affairs chief, described the European drug trade as “one of the most complex and invasive criminal phenomena of our times.”