Italian police bust ‘Ndrangheta cannabis plantation with 26,000 plants

The plants, worth an estimated €20 million at market value, were discovered on July 21st in Vibo Valentia in Calabria, southern Italy.

Italian police bust 'Ndrangheta cannabis plantation with 26,000 plants
Cannabis plants. File photo: CreativeNature/Depositphotos

The drugs plantation was run by Emanuele Mancuso, son of Pantaleone, head of the notorious 'Ndrangheta clan in the Calabrian town of Limbadi. 'Ndrangheta refers to Calabrian organized crime.

Using seeds purchased online, Mancuso had set up a vast plantation in Calabria's fertile hills. The trafficker controlled the plantation and its workers, many of whom were non-European migrants, using drones, adds the police report.

The police arrested Mancuso and 17 other accomplices and were able to “reconstruct the entire cannabis supply chain, identifying all the people involved,” said police in a statement. 

Semi di canapa comprati online e piantagioni controllate attraverso i droni, quanto scoperto dalla #Squadramobile di Vibo Valentia
26mila piante in grado di produrre circa 2 milioni di dosi di hashish o marijuana, per un valore di 20 milioni di euro

— Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) July 21, 2018

Twenty one other suspects are being investigated for drug trafficking as part of the operation. 

The plantation cultivated enough marihuana for two million doses. The offices of a company that sold cannabis seeds in 18 different Italian cities was also raided. 

READ MORE: Police drone spots 15,000 cannabis plants growing on Italian tomato farm


New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.