A SPANISH man is among 19 members of the Cosa Nostra held in New York after a major sting by United States law enforcement agencies and the Guardia Civil.
Most of those arrested belong to the Lucchese, one of the five main Sicilian mafia families operating in the Big Apple, while others are associated with the Bonnano and Genovese clans.
They face a raft of accusations including murder, conspiracy, extortion, assault, fraud, drug smuggling, money laundering and illegal gambling.
It comes as one of those arrested has been named as Carmelo Garcia Babarro, a 65-year-old Basque from Bilbao who has US citizenship and occupied the position of associate, the highest possible ranking for a non-Italian, within the Bonnano group.
He was involved in a plot to transport large quantities of cocaine to Spain from Argentina dissolved in bottles of wine, working alongside Lucchese second-in-command Tindaro Corso.
Babarro, who the Italians nicknamed ‘Spanish Carmine,’ made two trips to Alicante in 2016 during which he was tracked by Guardia Civil investigators following an FBI tipoff.
During the second of these he stayed with Corso in the Melia Hotel near Postiguet beach, the pair spending several days together with visits to Benidorm, cocktail bars and a local strip club.
Both men now face life imprisonment after two Guardia Civil officers crossed the Atlantic to assist in their arrests.