Posted by on September 23, 2022 3:42 pm
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Alleged drug kingpin extradited and charged in Miami after 20-year battle

heroin and drug taking. (iStockphoto)

Alleged drug kingpin extradited and charged in Miami after 20-year battle

Barnini Chakraborty September 23, 03:31 PMSeptember 23, 03:31 PM Video Embed

A 61-year-old alleged criminal mastermind who had been hunted by U.S. authorities for nearly two decades pleaded not guilty in a Miami courtroom this week on drug smuggling and money laundering charges.

Nello Quagliani is accused of running a global ecstasy ring and sending drug mules to Miami to peddle massive amounts of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or molly, in nightclubs and bars.

He is the last of the 30 members of his illegal enterprise to be prosecuted on charges dating back to 1996, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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He had been hiding out in South Africa since his arrest by Interpol in 2003, but because he has dual Italian and South African citizenship, Quagliani was able to duck extradition for 19 years, the Miami Herald reported. He had been challenging his extradition in a South African court, but a recent ruling against him and multiple others fighting extradition to and from the United States cleared the way.

Quagliani was charged with conspiracy to import and distribute MDMA in the U.S. and money laundering. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

He was the biggest get in an international ecstasy peddling operation based in the Netherlands, where the drug was allegedly bought in bulk.

“Nello Quagliani provided the MDMA to the members of the organization in Europe as well as received money from the corresponding sale of the MDMA after it had been successfully smuggled into the United States,” then-federal prosecutor David Weinstein wrote in his extradition request. “Nello Quagliani also assisted in the collection of the proceeds from the sale of the MDMA.”

Weinstein added that profits in U.S., Canadian, Swiss, Dutch, and German money had also been smuggled out of the U.S.

Quagliani allegedly worked with other drug associates to purchase “hundreds of thousands of ecstasy pills between 1996 and 2000” and bring them into the country on commercial flights to Miami International Airport.

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Authorities were eventually able to link Quagliani to the drug ring after an informant who worked with Quagliani’s partner, John Moya, was able to record conversations secretly that connected both men to a Jan. 2, 1998, shipment of 5,774 tablets of MDMA that were seized by customs officials at the Miami airport, according to the Miami Herald.

An email to the DEA for additional details and comment on Quagliani was not returned.

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