Image: mafia Alessandra Tarantino / AP
U.S. and Italian authorities hold a joint press conference Tuesday after the anti-mafia operation.

ROME – Police in Italy and the United States have broken up a major organized crime network made up of powerful mafia clans plotting to smuggle huge amounts of illegal drugs and weapons, officials said on Tuesday.

Officers on both sides of the Atlantic worked together in what they called an “unprecedented” two-year operation involving wiretaps and undercover officers penetrating deep into the heart of the alleged network, American and Italian officials said at a press conference in Rome.

Seventeen people in Italy and seven in New York were arrested in coordinated sweeps just after 7 p.m. ET on Monday. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars in cash were also recovered in the raids.

“We realized the ‘Ndrangheta wanted to create a bridge with the U.S. to move narcotics across the ocean,” U.S. magistrate Marshall Miller said, referring to the powerful criminal organization in Calabria, Italy.

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