German authorities say they have arrested a member of an Italian organized crime group following an investigation of a cocaine-smuggling racket.

Investigators in North Rhine-Westphalia state said Tuesday the 40-year-old Italian man, who wasn't identified, was arrested Dec. 23 in Gelsenkirchen as he left his hiding place. Investigators say he was a member of the Sacra Corona Unita group, based in southeastern Italy, and will soon be extradited to Italy.

The arrest followed an investigation by police in the Italian town of Francavilla Fontana into a group accused of smuggling cocaine and weapons.

German authorities say the group sent several shipments of cocaine from the Netherlands to Germany, from where they were driven to Italy. Italian authorities made arrests in October and November.