American and Italian authorities have announced arrests in big anti-Mafia raids conducted in both countries. Twenty-four people, including seven in NYC, were busted for their involvement in what the FBI calls a "transnational heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy involving the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy’s most powerful organized crime syndicates." U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said, "The 'Ndrangheta is an exceptionally dangerous, sophisticated and insidious criminal organization, with tentacles stretching from Italy to countries around the world."

The operation, called "New Bridge" by authorities, monitored drug dealing activities between Latin America, Italy, Canada and the U.S. The criminal activity in Italy was in the Calabria region, near the port of Gioia Tauro. CNN reports, "Anti-mafia prosecutors in Calabria have been carrying out an investigation over the past two years, and Italian police compiled a 2,000-page report detailing what was learned, including information from phone wiretaps."

One of the defendants, Brooklyn resident Franco Lupoi (who has lived in Calabria), "used his close criminal ties to both the Gambino organized crime family and the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian criminal organization akin to the Mafia in Sicily and the Camorra in Naples, to pursue criminal activity that stretched across the globe," according to the FBI. Lupoi's father-in-law, Nicola Antonio Simonetta, is part of the Ursino clan of the ‘Ndrangheta.

As alleged in court documents, Lupoi exploited these underworld connections to link his criminal associates in New York with those in Calabria, forming conspiracies to traffic heroin and cocaine. On the Italian side, he allegedly engaged Italian defendant and ‘Ndrangheta leader Francesco Ursino and others as suppliers of heroin and buyers of cocaine....

...Lupoi also set into motion a plot to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine, concealed in frozen food, in shipping containers from Guyana to Calabria. In the course of these conspiracies, Lupoi assured his confederates of his relationship with a corrupt port official in Gioia Tauro, indicating that in return for €200,000, the official could guarantee passage of unlimited containers of contraband. In New York, Lupoi joined forces with defendants Alexander Chan and [Jose Alfredo] Garcia to orchestrate the Guyana-Italy cocaine conspiracy. In conversations recorded by the undercover agent, the conspirators discussed their connections to Mexican drug cartels operating in Guyana, South America, and plotted to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine internationally, hidden in shipments of frozen fish or pineapples. On the Italian side, Ursino and his co-conspirators planned to use a fish importation company to receive the shipment. As set forth in Italian court documents, the conspiracy slowed when shipping containers originating from the same Guyanese shipping company were seized in Malaysia and found to contain more than $7 million in cocaine hidden in pineapples and coconut milk.

Also, another alleged ‘Ndrangheta member Raffaele Valente "sold an illegal silencer and sawed-off shotgun to the FBI undercover agent at the Royal Crown Bakery in Brooklyn," and Valente described his crew as well as his devotion to St. Michael the Archangel as the purported 'patron saint' of the ‘Ndrangheta."

A CBS News correspondent, Allen Pizzey, was allowed to observe the nighttime raids in Italy and says, "The operation took place in the dead of night under conditions of absolute secrecy. Pizzey says the area is so infested with local Mafia, that they literally have eyes and ears everywhere.... FBI special agents, who CBS News is not identifying due to the nature of their work, were on hand for the raids in Italy, and Italian police took part in the operations in New York. Five carloads of police arrived at one location so fast, that the target only appeared to realize what was going on moments before he was placed under arrest -- when the officer in charge knocked politely on his door, and said good morning."