PALERMO, Sicily — A man was arrested on his way to New York on Wednesday carrying a large consignment of heroin, and Italian police sources said the Mafia is believed to have established a new drug connection with the United States.
Police said that Nicola Rao, 33, an automobile tire dealer with no criminal record, was carrying seven pounds of high-grade heroin worth an estimated $2 million in a body belt and in bags tied to his legs.
He was arrested early Wednesday at Palermo airport as he was about to catch a flight to New York via Rome.
The police operation followed the arrest in Palermo two weeks ago of another courier carrying 4.5 pounds of high-grade heroin.
Police sources said the seizures indicated that the Sicilian Mafia has built a new heroin refinery and re-established its supply lines to the U.S. market.