Explosives inside wreck stolen by local Mafia syndicate
A ship which had over the years become a source of explosives for criminals has been sealed off.
Off the coast of Calabria, the Laura Cosulich had been torpedoed in 1941 en route from Venice to Libya by the British Submarine HMS Upholder. According to official documents, the cargo consisted of routine goods like textile, spirits and machine tools. However, this was not so. In the 1970s, it was discovered that the cargo was actually 1,500 tons of TNT and other military supplies bound for troops in North Africa.
The local Mafia syndicate, the 'Ndrangheta, got wind of this and decided to help themselves to the explosives, which was lying at just over 50 metres depth.
And so, in the 1990s and 2000s, explosives from the shipwreck of the Laura Cosulich would repeatedly be seized in the syndicate's procession. In fact, in February 2015, eight people were arrested for trafficking TNT that had originated from the wreck.
To prevent the criminals from getting more explosives from this cutting-edge “supply base”, the Italian authorities decided to stop all access to the cargo. Using concrete bags and an iron cage, Italian navy divers completely blocked access to the wreck's hull. The entire operation took 67 hours, spread over dozens of 50-minute dives. Although not an easy operation, it resulted in the permanent closure of this underwater “supply base”.