Sunday, 16 December, 2018

More than 80 arrested in Mafia raids in Europe and South America

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group Police launch coordinated raids on Italian mafia in Europe
Ellis Copeland | 06 December, 2018, 16:36

Around 90 suspected mafia members have been arrested across Europe.

Wednesday's raids were the culmination of a two-year investigation codenamed Pollino against the powerful 'ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, Eurojust said.

"Today, supported by a coordination center at Eurojust, judicial and law enforcement authorities from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium are now executing arrests and seizures against a 'Ndrangheta criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence", Wednesday's statement read.

The 'Ndrangheta group comes from Calabria in the south of Italy, it is one of three mafia crime groups, which includes the Camorra, and the Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia.

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) also said raids had been carried out on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

"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.

"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia said.

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.

Officials hailed Wednesday's operation - dubbed "Operation Pollina" - as a serious blow to the group.

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In Germany, 14 arrests were made, German prosecutor Horst Bien said. His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.

Police also raided an Italian restaurant in Pulheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

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

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

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

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.

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

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.

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