Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia hit by huge global sweep

06 December, 2018, 16:30 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Italian police identifies migrants in a camp set by the Baobab aid group in Rome Italy

Authorities on Wednesday arrested suspected members of the Italian Mafia 'Ndrangheta across Europe on the heels of a sweep of accused mobsters.

Hundreds of police in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters and seized around two million euros ($3 million Cdn) on Wednesday in a series of co-ordinated raids targeting a powerful branch of the Italian Mafia.

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

Operation Pollino was co-ordinated by Eurojust, the EU's cross-border justice authority, which described it as a "decisive" intervention against organised crime.

More than 80 people with suspected links to the 'Ndrangheta Mafia - considered one of the world's largest organized crime groups - have been arrested during raids in six European countries and in the South American country of Suriname.

Officials said by midday of the operation, nearly 4,000 kilos of cocaine and hundreds of kilos of other drugs were seized.

Specifically, over three tonnes of cocaine and 140kg of ecstasy were seized in the coordinated raids, with several mafia-owned Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours stormed.

Eurojust said those detained are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery, and violence.

"We send a clear message to organised crime groups across Europe".

The Mafia group hails from Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy's boot, and has made substantial inroads in European countries.

But he warned that it was "just a first step", saying the arrests were "nothing for the 'Ndrangheta, there are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions that should be seized".

It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to its control of the cocaine trade, and is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors.

Early-morning raids took place in Italy, the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In January police arrested almost 170 people, including mayors and businessmen and local administrators, in similar raids across Italy and Germany.

The 'ndrangheta "is the most important organized crime group in the world", said Gen. Alessandro Barbera, who commands the investigative unit of Italy's financial police corps.

Mr De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".



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