Drugs, fake checks at the port of Gioia Tauro to facilitate the trafficking of the ‘Ndrangheta: two customs officials arrested


By John

They would have altered controls for favor the ‘Ndrangheta in drug trafficking. They were arrested on this charge two officials of the Customs and Monopolies Agency, on duty at the Gioia Tauro (Rc) office. In total there are 7 suspects. They ended up in prison Antonio Pititto and Mario Giuseppe Solanoand under house arrest for an employee of a shipping company, Elisa Calfapietra.

The Financiers of the Provincial Command of Reggio Calabria – with the operational support of the SCICO and with the collaboration of EUROPOL and the DCSA – have implemented the provision which provides for the precautionary custody in prison against the two subjects and house arrest against an employee of a shipping company who are allegedly involved in international drug trafficking aggravated by the aim of facilitating the ‘Ndrangheta. The measures were ordered by the investigating judge at the Court of Reggio Calabria, at the request of the local Public Prosecutor’s Office – District Anti-Mafia Directorate, led by Giovanni Bombardieri.

A total of 7 individuals are being investigated by the Reggio Calabria DDA, with the support of Eurojust, including a third customs official, already arrested during a separate and converging operation carried out in October 2022 by the same Department.

In particular, according to the accusation, the officials were part of a criminal association, now disjointed, made up of manager of a shipping company, by unfaithful dock workers and by representatives of the main ‘Ndrangheta gangs operating in the area of ​​the «Gioia Tauro plain».

“Altered” inspections and “hidden” anomalies

In detail, the customs officers, on duty at key points of the control device, such as the scanner control and the “visual” control by opening the containers, would have allowed huge quantities of cocaine to leave the port by altering the results of the inspections or the failure to detect anomalies in the controlled loads. The documents found by the financiers also include precise instructions, provided by customs officials, on how the South American narcos should have placed the blocks of cocaine inside the cover loads, to significantly reduce the possibility that these would be identified during ordinary checks.

Furthermore, if the cargo had been discovered in any case, the same customs officers would have provided the organization with the relevant seizure reports in order to justify the loss of the narcotic, thus avoiding the payment of the agreed amount. Furthermore, one of the customs officials would have taken care to warn his associates about any operations conducted by the “Fiamme Gialle”, with the aim of avoiding their arrest.

Over two kg of cocaine seized

The investigations, also conducted with the collaboration of personnel from the Customs and Monopolies Agency, also made it possible to reconstruct the involvement of the recalled ADM personnel in 5 imports of narcotics, carried out between June 2020 and October 2022, for over 3 tons of cocaine, of which 2.7 were intercepted by financiers and subjected to seizure.

The role of Customs officials and the shipping company employee

From the investigations conducted by the Economic and Financial Police Unit – Gico of the financial police of Reggio Calabria which led to the arrest of two Customs officials, “the criminal bravado demonstrated” by the suspects “during the course of the events, which allowed them to act undisturbed in the alteration of controls and in the omissions aimed at concealing the real contents of the containers full of drugs”. This is what the investigating judge of Reggio Calabria writes Giovanna Sergi in the precautionary custody order which this morning led to the arrest in prison for drug trafficking of the two officials of the Customs Agency on duty at the port of Gioia Tauro, Antonio Pititto and Mario Giuseppe Solanoand under house arrest for an employee of a shipping company, Elisa Calfapietra.

A restrictive measure adopted because, writes the investigating judge, “there is a concrete and current danger that the three, if not prevented, will commit other crimes of the same type as those for which proceedings are being carried out or in any case continue with the criminal conduct in dispute”. In the 800 pages of the provision the investigating judge highlights the “involvement” of the two customs officers “in a variety of illicit import trafficking”. According to the judge, the «evidentiary material revealed an alarming relevance of the association’s events». «Moreover – we read in the ordinance – the existence of stratified relationships for years now between subjects who operate within that Office and subjects who gravitate within the port sector and the absence of any rethinking in the face of the massive presence of the the police constitute an expression of criminal arrogance which promises the repetition of similar behaviour”.

Under house arrest

Elisa CalfapietraCinquefrondi, 37 years old

In jail

Antonio PitittoVibo Valentia, 60 years old

Mario Giuseppe Italo SolanoNicotera, 60 years old

Precautionary measures

Domenico Cutrì, Palmi, 43 years old

Giuseppe Papalia, Delianuova, 39 years old

Renato Papalia, Cinquefrondi, 26 years old

Pasquale Sergio, White, 56 years old