Police nab dozens of suspected mobsters in global operation

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

European law enforcement agencies jointly launched Operation Pollino in 2016, looking to put a dent in the 'Ndrangheta's criminal operations.

In an investigation that underscored an Italian crime syndicate's role as a leading player in global cocaine trafficking, police in four countries arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters Wednesday in a series of carefully coordinated raids.

The 'Ndrangheta, a mafia organisation that operates out of the Calabria region of southern Italy, is one of the world's largest crime syndicates and thought to make billions of euro through cocaine trafficking every year. Around 90 arrests were made; 4,000 kilograms (8,820 pounds) of cocaine and 140 kilograms of ecstasy pills were seized.

He said the "unprecedented and extraordinary result", the fruit of a two-year operation, targeted "dangerous members of the 'Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

"It's nearly a cliche, but the operation carried out today confirms again the great danger of the 'ndrangheta, not just in drug trafficking, where it's the undisputed leader, but (also) in the financial sphere", said Francesco Ratta, a top police official in the southern Italian region of Calabria.

Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho said the operations would affect the 'Ndrangheta's drug trafficking operations around the world, including Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil.

Eurojust, the EU's Judicial Cooperation Unit, is a unit established to fight cross-border organized crime in Europe.

German federal police said in a statement on December 5 that there had been multiple arrests in the early morning raids on premises linked to the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio hailed the operation as "one of the biggest blows inflicted on the mafia" by the Italian authorities. His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.

As well as arresting dozens of suspected mobsters in Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, police seized drugs and around 2 million euros ($2.3 million).

Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours used to launder money were among the premises raided.

A 2012 police report showed the Ndrangheta could have as many as a hundred active members in this country.

Germany's Der Spiegel reported that the German operation was mostly concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia - a stronghold for the mafia - and involved 240 police and another 240 support staff from the federal criminal agency.

The operation comes a day after Italian police arrested the supposed new "godfather" of the Sicilian Mafia, Settimo Mineo, in a dawn raid.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained along with at least 45 others just before he was due to be appointed official heir to notorious mafia boss Toto Riina who died in prison past year.

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