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ROME (Reuters) - Italian anti-mafia police said on Tuesday they had broken up an international drug ring that was conspiring to smuggle about eight tonnes of cocaine to Europe from Colombia.

Fifty-four people with links to the 'Ndrangheta, the organised crime group based in the southern Calabria region, were arrested in various parts of Italy, they said in a statement.

The haul, confiscated in a plantation near the Caribbean port of Turbo, would have had a total street value of about 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion), officials said.

The drugs were to be smuggled into Europe via Calabrian ports and airports. What police called a "test run" of 63 kilograms (139 lb) of pure cocaine was found hidden in a load of bananas in the central Italian port city of Livorno.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by John Stonestreet)

Reuters