Italian police intercepted a massive shipment of opioid pills they believe were meant to finance terrorist attacks for the Islamic State.
More than 24 million tramadol pills were discovered Friday in the southwestern city of Gioia Tauro, home to Italy’s largest container port. The pills cost 2 euros each ($2.3) and ISIS would likely have made some 50 million euros ($58 million) if the stash went on the market, Italian police said.
Tramadol is a prescription painkiller and the shipment arrived from India with Libya as the final destination. The drug is commonly used to calm fighters’ pain and fear, aside from being a moneymaker for the group.
“The traffic of tramadol is directly handled by IS to finance terrorist activities planned and carried out across the world,” a court in the region said, according to Sky News.
A similar stash of 36 million pills was discovered in shampoo bottles is May. The latest bust is significant since the port is affiliated with crime syndicate “Ndràngheta,” which leads investigators to believe the group could be in business with ISIS.
“Even though investigative pressure has made the port less ‘safe’ for the mob, we have identified several carriers and families linked to the Ndràngheta who seem to be engaged in various types of trafficking with organisations in the Middle East,” anti-mafia investigator Gaetano Paci told La Repubblica.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration help with Friday’s operation.