Several members of a violent branch of Italy's notorious Camorra crime family have been arrested after stealing drugs from rival traffickers in Spain and selling the contraband on the streets, authorities said.
Fourteen members of the "Marranella" clan were arrested and another seven are being investigated for the brazen theft and brutal attacks on rival gangs on Spain's southern Costa del Sol.
“With operation Maverick II we have disbanded one of the most important and violent criminal organizations dedicated to the international drug trade and based out of the Costa del Sol,” a Guardia Civil spokesperson said in a statement.
Authorities say members of Marranella obtained drugs by any means possible, including stealing them from other gangs.
"To carry out these thefts, members of this organization used extreme violence, not hesitating to use firearms to kidnap other area drug traffickers," the statement said.
Authorities ultimately seized about a half ton of hashish, a potent form of marijuana. They allege the group also bought the drug in Spain with help from a group of British citizens based in the southern province of Cadiz.
Once the Marranellas had the drugs in their possession, it was then "transported to Rome by road, hidden inside rented motorhomes, with the trip carried out usually by a man and a woman hired by the organization, to appear as if they were a couple on vacation and not raise suspicions during any police controls."
Police also located a hidden trapdoor in a farm in el Zabal de la Linea de la Concepcion, in Cadiz, where a hidden basement was used to stash up to a ton of drugs to be exported to Italy.
Based in Naples, the Camorra is one of Italy's three main organized crime groups, along with Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the 'Ndrangheta, which operated in the Calabria region. The Camorra crime syndicate is one of the oldest criminal organizations in Italy and dates back to the 17th century.
The Marranella clan was run by Era Giuseppe and his two sons, one of whom was arrested during the police sting. The other escaped and is presumed to be hiding out in Italy.