The doomed Costa Concordia was carrying a huge shipment of Mafia-owned cocaine when it set off on its final voyage, investigators have said.
’Ndrangheta, the feared Calabrian crime syndicate, had its drugs hidden aboard the huge cruise ship that partially capsized in January 2012 with the loss of 32 lives, phone and tape recordings of gang members have revealed.
“The same ship that made us a laughing stock around the world, took the piss out of us, too,” ’Ndrangheta boss Michele Rossi is heard saying to an associate, Massimo Tiralongo, according to police officers investigating the organisation’s vast cocaine-trafficking operation.
In addition to vessels operated by Costa Cruises, ’Ndrangheta also placed its drugs on ships owned by MSC and Norwegian Cruise Lines, which travel between Europe, North America and the Caribbean, according to details of the criminal investigation revealed in La Repubblica.
Officers from the organised crime investigation group in Florence say that the drugs on the Concordia, which have not been found, were stowed aboard without the knowledge of senior officers or senior company officials, but almost certainly with the complicity of one or more crew members.
The Concordia, with more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, partially capsized on the night of 13 January 2012, close to the island of Giglio, after the captain performed a risky manoeuvre which caused it to crash into rocks near the shore, tearing a huge hole in its side.
In February this year, Francesco Schettino, the Concordia’s captain, was found guilty of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before his passengers. He was given a 16-year jail sentence.
The Concordia was towed to Genoa in July last year to be scrapped in a complex, €100m operation, which is expected to last nearly two years.
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