Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

A total of 84 suspects were arrested as police in Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg raided the homes of suspected mafia bosses and searched restaurants and other businesses in the early hours of the morning.

Almost 90 people including high-ranking members of the powerful organised crime syndicate accused of drug trafficking and money laundering were arrested in coordinated raids in six countries, European Union justice agency Eurojust said.

In Germany, Wednesday's operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments, mainly in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria region.

"The group controls a substantial amount of the European cocaine traffic, " Westerbeke said, speaking at a news conference at Eurojust headquarters in The Hague.

"This shows that worldwide crime can be tackled well if we work well together", said Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia.

Italian prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho told reporters on Monday that he expects an ongoing investigation into 'Ndrangheta and that what the arrests made so far are "nothing to them".

Officials said by midday of the operation, nearly 4,000 kilos of cocaine and hundreds of kilos of other drugs were seized. There should be over 1,000 arrests and billions of euros should be seized.

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Prosecutors and officials said the raids on Wednesday netted about 2 million euros in criminal proceeds and some ecstasy pills and cocaine were found.

Hoppe said the crime organization's drug trafficking operations are extensive and sophisticated, with the use of "human money mules and vehicles with special hiding compartments".

The investigation also involved operations in the South American country of Suriname.

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

He said that groups of the 'Ndrangheta and its allies had infiltrated ports around Europe to ease drug smuggling, and have "polluted" lawyers and accountants in numerous countries on their payrolls.

Wednesday's operation came a day after Italian police arrested the suspected new head of the Sicilian Mafia and 45 other alleged gangsters, dealing a major blow to the mob as it tried to rebuild after years of setbacks.

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.

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