Italian police seize €50 million stash of ‘Isis drugs’

Police in Italy have seized a stash of drugs that they believe Isis planned to sell to finance terrorist attacks, authorities said on Friday.

Italian police seize €50 million stash of 'Isis drugs'
Italy's largest container port, Gioia Tauro. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP.

Customs officials discovered more than 24 million pills of a powerful opiate at Italy’s largest container port, south-western Gioia Tauro, according to prosecutors in the nearby city of Reggio Calabria.

The drugs, prescription painkillers called Tramadol, had arrived from India and were destined for Libya, where authorities believe Isis planned to sell them to its own fighters as a fix for pain and exhaustion.

With a price tag of around €2 per pill, the consignment would likely have made the group some €50 million, prosecutors said.

As well as being a money-spinner, Tramadol helps to numb Isis recruits as they wage terror. The group is believed to supply its foot soldiers with painkillers and amphetamines to suppress their fear, pain, hunger and fatigue.

Italian police intercepted an even bigger shipment of Tramadol in May at the port of Genoa, when traffickers attempted to smuggle 36 million pills hidden in bottles of shampoo.

What’s significant in this latest case, according to prosecutors, is that Gioia Tauro port has long been controlled by the region’s organised crime syndicate, the ‘Ndràngheta – which suggests that the group could be collaborating with Islamic State traffickers.

“We’ve known of connections between the ‘Ndràngheta and Middle Eastern organizations for some time,” Gaetano Paci, the Reggio Calabria magistrate in charge of anti-mafia cases, told La Repubblica.

“Even though investigative pressure has made the port less ‘safe’ for the mob, we have identified several carriers and families linked to the ‘Ndràngheta who seem to be engaged in various types of trafficking with organisations in the Middle East,” he said.

For now prosecutors are still “trying to join the dots,” according to Paci.   


Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.