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Italian Police Arrest 17 Moroccan Migrants in Massive Drug Bust

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PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Italian narcotic police carried out a major drug bust Saturday in the northern Italian seaside town of Viareggio, arresting 17 Moroccan immigrants believed to be responsible for dealing drugs in the area.

The “Souk 2018” operation, which began last October, led to accumulated evidence of drug dealing on the part of 25 North African migrants, some of whom were asylum seekers or in the country illegally and 17 of whom were taken into custody on charges of dealing cocaine, hashish, heroin, and marijuana. The other eight are still are large.

All in all, throughout two months of investigation, police were able to document 57 separate drug deals through the use of undercover agents and hidden cameras.

One of the ways in which the drugs were sold, Italian media reported, was by hiding it among the bushes or flowerbeds in the town center or buried in a nearby pine forest. Sales reportedly took place in broad daylight, even in the presence of numerous passersby and regardless of weather conditions, leading the prosecutor of the case to express his astonishment at the dealers’ “bravado.”

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted about the arrest Saturday, saying that the 25 drug dealers were “selling death, even to little children,” noting that thanks to the recently passed Salvini decree, the asylum seekers among them will be eligible for immediate deportation.

The “Salvini Decree” on security and immigration refers to three-part legislation addressing (1) asylum and citizenship, (2) security measures against organized crime, and (3) the administration of goods confiscated from organized crime.

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