A deadly Colombian cartel dubbed a "Supergang" is thought to be behind a record-breaking 4.3 tonne cocaine bust worth more than £200million.
The Clan del Golfo were allegedly working with the mafia in the lead up to the drugs haul in Trieste, Italy.
Italian police announced on Tuesday that they had completed one of Europe's biggest ever drugs busts, seizing €240m (£204m) worth of gear.
Police also confiscated around €1.85m (£1.57m) in cash.
In a daring act of subterfuge, Colombian authorities actually seized the cocaine before it left for Europe without the traffickers' knowledge.
It was then flown to Italy where a trap was laid for the European dealers, who were arrested after undercover operatives passed on the load.
Colonel Leonardo Erre of the Trieste Guardia di Finanza police said: "The purchasing organisations were different and did not know that the cocaine had already been seized, the producer in Colombia had already been paid and did not know about the seizure.
"And so thanks to front companies and undercover agents, we were able to run the operation, delivery after delivery for over a year until the end of May."
Arrest warrants have now been issued for 38 people in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Colombia following the investigation.
Colombian authorities said in November that the Clan del Golfo were one of their primary targets.
The cartel, which is Colombia's largest, saw its leader Dairo Antonio Usuga, better known as 'Otoniel', captured in a dramatic jungle raid in October and extradited to the US.
Otoniel's downfall was considered the most significant in Colombia since Pablo Escobar, the infamous founder and leader of the Medellin Cartel, was shot dead in 1993.
As well as trafficking charges, Otoniel is accused of sexually abusing children, murdering cops and recruiting children into the cartel.
Italian investigators said that their work has uncovered a "dense network" between cocaine producers in South America and dealers in Europe.
The European dealers are thought to be associated with Italian organised crime groups, including the 'Ndrangheta mafia in Calabria.
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