The suitcase stashed with cocaine was intended to fall from a light aircraft into the hands of drug traffickers waiting on the ground in Baratili San Pietro, a town of about 1,200 people in Sardinia.
Instead it landed on the roof of a home, smashing a solar panel along the way.
The startled owners of the property heard a loud bang and immediately called the police, who found a black suitcase on the roof filled with 8.5kg of pure cocaine worth more than €9m (£7.7m). “It’s raining cocaine in Sardinia,” the Italian press reported of the 28 March incident, comparing it with tactics used by drug traffickers in South America.
After a four-month search as part of an investigation codenamed Fly Down, police arrested the pilot of the plane on Tuesday.
Their investigation revealed that the plane had taken off from a small airport in Rome and passed over the province of Nuoro in the north-east of Sardinia before making its way west to Baratili San Pietro in the province of Oristano, where it disappeared from the radar for about 20 의사록.
Police said the aircraft disappeared from radar in the minutes before the suitcase was dropped because it was flying at such a low altitude. “Analysis of the GPS located on board the plane confirmed that during those 20 minutes the aircraft had performed several laps in the area above the place [where the suitcase] was discovered,” police said.
Images of the same aircraft were also captured on surveillance cameras as it made a stopover at Olbia airport.
With the help of witness statements from airport staff and refuelling records, police were able to identify the pilot as Francesco Rizzo, 28, from Rome.
Rizzo was working as a pilot for a Hungarian company and flying wealthy people around when he was arrested at Cagliari Elmas airport after landing a flight from Germany .
Police are still searching for the traffickers who were supposed to catch the stash.
The incident was officially a first for Sardinia, but police suspect that drugs have been dropped from the sky undetected over the island before.