Three deny drug trafficking after police foil 550kg cannabis importation operation

Three men: two from Italy and one from Malta have pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges following Malta's biggest-ever drug find.

Three men: two from Italy and one from Malta have pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges following Malta's biggest-ever drug find.

Rudolph Said, 35, from Fgura, 60-year old Angelo Penna and 42-year old Cristofaro Paratore, both from Catania appeared in the dock before magistrate Grazio Mercieca this morning.

Inspector Kevin Pulis charged all three with conspiracy to traffic cannabis, as well as aggravated possession of cannabis. Paratore and Penna, who is the owner of the trucks in which the majority of the drugs were found, are also facing money laundering charges.

The trio were among the five persons arrested after police discovered 530 kilogrammes of cannabis resin and 20 kilogrammes of cannabis buds, together with €200,000 in cash, concealed inside two Italian-registered trucks and a Malta-registered car on Thursday night. Police estimate the value of the haul to be in the millions of euros.

The men pleaded not guilty and were remanded in custody.

Police are investigating two other men, both from Slovenia, who were also arrested in connection with the drug find.

Lawyers Roberto Montalto, Mario Mifsud and Franco Debono appeared for Said. Lawyer Benjamin Valenzia was legal aid to the Italians.

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