In April and November last year, the Australian navy seized two consignments of heroin off the coast of Kenya, totalling 787 kg and worth about USD278m. Another haul was made in July when Kenyan police found 342 kg of heroin in the tank of a ship docked at the Mombasa port, making it the biggest ever single seizure of drugs in Kenya coastal city. The three seizures roughly equalled the amount captured by 11 east African governments between 1990 and 2009, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Our project ‘Mafias in Africa’ has unearthed an unprecendented amount of information regarding Italian organized crime’s influence in African economies. Most probably, what has been uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg. Yet, the tip is huge enough to allow at least a very partial estimation of the value of the largest empire, that of Vito Roberto Palazzolo, a.k.a. Robert Von Palace Kolbatshenko, currently detained in Milan for Mafia association, after having escaped justice for well over a decade.
Nicola Assisi is one of the most important drug brokers of the Italian ‘Ndrangheta mafia group, in a trade worth over thirty billion euros. Having inherited the most precious contact book of the trade, Assisi has been sending tons of cocaine from South America to Europe. This is the story of how he and his sons have been playing cat and mouse with law enforcement for two decades.