Suspected mafia members arrested in coordinated global raids

Italian police identifies migrants in a camp set by the Baobab aid group in Rome Italy

Members of the notorious 'Ndrangheta Italian mafia have been targeted in a simultaneous police sting in Europe.

The suspected mafioso are believed to be involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, violence and bribery, said Eurojust, the European Union agency that coordinates cross-border crime fighting.

Around 90 people suspected of belonging to the notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia were rounded up on Wednesday in raids across several European and Latin American countries, Italian police said. More than three tons of cocaine and about 300 pounds of ecstasy were seized.

A leading expert on the 'ndrangheta, Catanzaro-based Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, recently said the Calabrian-based 'ndrangheta syndicate has for years been buying up hotels, restaurants and other properties in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany to both launder some of the billions of dollars it rakes in through cocaine trafficking, as well as invest that money to start "clean" businesses and earn even more revenue.

The group has links with drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico, Italian anti-Mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said in The Hague.

"Today, we send a clear message to organised crime groups across Europe", Filippo Spiezia, vice president of the EU's judicial agency Eurojust, told reporters in The Hague.

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".

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.

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

In Germany, 14 arrests were made, German prosecutor Horst Bien said.

In Germany, the operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments, mainly in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, with 21 suspects targeted.

European police agency Europol called it a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world".

Police swooped just a day after the alleged "godfather" of the Sicilian mafia was arrested, along with 45 other suspected mobsters.

Dutch NOS television said the 'Ndrangheta were mainly active in the Netherlands in drug smuggling through the country's huge flower export market.

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.

Related:

Comments


Other news