Updated June 8, 11am
Italian police seized more than 10 tonnes of cannabis resin stashed aboard an ocean-going fishing boat and arrested the nine crew members on Thursday.
Newspaper La Repubblica said that the ringleader was a Maltese man, who it named as David Bonello. The Italian news outlet had initially said three of the nine arrested were Maltese, only to revise that as more information surfaced.
Finance police boarded the Dutch-flagged "Quest" some 130 miles (210 km) south of Sicily after tracking the vessel for more than 40 hours as it made its way through the Mediterranean.
Italian media said the boat had set sail from Malta and had picked up the drugs after a rendez-vous with dealers off the coast of Morocco and Algeria. La Repubblica newspaper said criminals in Libya had overseen the operation.
The vessel was captained by a Romanian, with Mr Bonello allegedly its second-in-command and trafficking ringleader, according to La Repubblica.
Two Egyptians, two Ukrainians, one Dutchman, a Croatian and an Italian made up the rest of the crew, the news outlet said. The latter previously served as an officer in Italy's prison system before being kicked out after being suspected of robbery.
The street value of the cannabis resin was put at between €15-20 million.