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Italian police break up arms ring

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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Italian authorities announced Tuesday they have uncovered an arms smuggling ring in which more than 500,000 weapons and ammunition from Russia and China were going to be funneled to Iraq and Libya.

Italian military police arrested four people across Italy on Monday in connection with the arms smuggling ring, which police stumbled upon while investigating a drug ring in the central town of Terni, Lt. Col. Rocco Amoruso said. Twelve others were arrested in connection with the drug ring.

Among the four arrested was an Italian businessman with a company in Malta, a small island nation south of Sicily where police believe the weapons would be transferred before reaching their final destinations.

According to Amoruso, the weapons deal to send arms from China to Libya was in an advanced stage, and six AK47 assault rifles had already been sent to the north African country as samples.

As many as 500,000 AK47s and 10 million rounds of ammunition were destined for Libya, he said.

The second deal, which involved sending 100,000 machine guns from Russia to Iraq, was still in an early stage and no arms had been sent, Amoruso said.

-- CNN's Flavia Taggiasco contributed to this report.

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