Fake Pilgrims Smuggle Drugs

Italian police say drug smugglers pretending to be pious Catholics on pilgrimage slipped cocaine into Italy in their luggage as part of a trafficking ring coordinated by a convent's doorman.

The Carabinieri (Italian police) say the nuns at the convent in the northern city of Piacenza didn't have a clue about the smuggling operation and were stunned when the doorman, from an unidentified South American country, was arrested.

More than 30 other suspects were arrested. They include two alleged Milan-based mobsters from the Calabrian 'ndrangheta crime syndicate, which investigators alleged imported cocaine from Colombia's main drug cartels into Europe via Africa or on passengers flying from South America to Italy.

Police say they seized 30 kilograms of cocaine, refined somewhere in Italy and portioned in small packages for street sale. No estimate of the drug's street value was given.

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