Italian police have arrested 16 people, including a Maltese national, as part of an operation to bust a drug ring that moved cocaine and cannabis into Malta and Italy.
The criminal organisation is suspected of having moved the drugs from Albania and the Italian regions of Puglia and Calabria into Sicily and Malta, where they were sold.
Maltese national John Spiteri was among those arrested, Italian police said. Spiteri is suspected of handling the Maltese end of the operation.
A total of 430kg in cannabis, cannabis resin and cocaine was seized by Italy's Guardia di Finanza as part of the bust, named Operation 'La Vallette'.
Some 100 officers from Italy's financial police Guardia di Finanza in Catania, Sicily and the serious crimes unit were involved in the arrests, which were made in Catania, Ragusa, and Syracuse in Sicily and in Calabria in mainland Italy.
Who are the suspects?
The suspects are to be charged with drug trafficking and forming part of a criminal organisation.
Italian media reported that police believe Rosario Amico led the drug ring, working with his associates Pietro Sessa and Lucia Amenia, who helped him acquire the drugs.
Amico and his associates are suspected of having acquired drugs from three other suspects - Eriseld, Ledi and Emiljano Hoxhaji - in Albania, to then resell in Sicily and Malta.
Alessandro and Giuseppe Agostino, together with Antonio Bevilacqua, are also suspected of supplying cocaine, cannabis and cannabis resin to the criminal ring in Calabria, at times with the help of Salvatore Agostino and Rocco Bevilacqua.
Roberto Melfi is accused of being a buyer of cocaine, which he allegedly resold in the provinces of Milan and Monza.
This is the second major drug ring with links to Malta to be busted this month.
On November 16 Italian police announced that they had arrested 12 people suspected of forming part of a drug ring that smuggled cannabis and cocaine into Sicily and Malta.