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The police and customs officials took the pills in the container port of Gioia Tauro in the province of Reggio Calabria. The US Drug Enforcement Administration participated in the investigation.
A video shows how a police officer opens a container filled with boxes of Tramadol, a strong painkiller, which is usually only available on prescription.
With an average selling price of about 2 euros per tablet, the party is worth 50 million euros, according to a court statement. Foreign researchers told the court in the city of Reggio Calabria that the drugs were owned by IS.
Drug sales were 'directly managed by IS to afford planned and committed terrorist activities around the world,' said the main prosecutor of Reggio Calabria. 'Part of the gain from their illegal sale would be used to finance extremist groups in Libya, Syria and Iraq,' he said.
The court did not give details about how the smuggling was discovered or about its destination. Last year a similar shipment was discovered in Greece and in May a further load was intercepted in the port of Genoa in Italy.