Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Around 90 mafia members arrested in raids across Europe

Around 90 mafia members arrested in raids across Europe

Those arrested are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, said Italian police and Eurojust, the European prosecution agency that tackles cross-border organised crime.

Authorities said they conducted raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

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

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where prosecutors got the ball rolling for the investigation in 2014 with probes into two Italian restaurants, and more suspects were detained just over the border in Belgium.

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.

Some 140 kilograms of ecstasy pills and 3 000-4 000 kilos of cocaine were seized during the operation, Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said at a press conference in The Hague on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio hailed the operation as "one of the biggest blows inflicted on the mafia" by the Italian authorities.

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"Obviously we have not defeated 'Ndrangheta with this operation - 'Ndrangheta is extremely powerful and extremely rich", he said. There should be over 1,000 arrests and billions of euros should be seized.

"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.

Two people were also arrested in Luxembourg, and one in Suriname.

He added, groups of the 'Ndrangheta and its allies, have infiltrated the ports around Europe and "polluted" lawyers and accountants in many countries on their payrolls.

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

On Tuesday, Italian police arrested new Cosa Nostra boss Settimino Mineo and dozens of other suspects in Sicily.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained 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 previous year.

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