, ROME, May 13 – Italian police smashed a drug trafficking ring secretly using a nun\’s convent outside Milan and seized 40 kilogrammes (88 pounds) of cocaine, the country\’s paramilitary police said Wednesday.
The nuns at the convent in Piacenza "had no idea it was going on," Carabinieri Colonel Edoardo Cappellano told AFP.
"A Colombian security guard let in accomplices under the false pretext of pilgrimages or spiritual retreats," Cappellano said. "Instead of prayer books, he let cocaine through."
Thirty-three arrests were made, including a dozen Colombians, and another 80 people are under investigation.
Italian police believe the Calabrian mafia and at least two Colombian drug cartels to be behind the operation, and said the arrests dealt "a major setback to cocaine trafficking" in northern Italy.
During their three-year investigation Italian police also discovered the smugglers had set up a storehouse in Ghana by diverting aid from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation intended for the fishing industry.