Friday, 14 December, 2018

Crackdown on Italian mob prompts dozens of arrests in Europe

Around 90 people suspected of belonging to the notorious'Ndrangheta mafia were rounded up in raids across several European and Latin American countries Italian police said Policemen raid an ice cafe in Duisburg western Germany
Kenny Thornton | 06 December, 2018, 16:34

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

The raids were the culmination of an investigation codenamed Pollino that was launched in 2016 against the 'Ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, said Eurojust, the European agency that fights cross-border organized crime, which coordinated the operation.

In an investigation that underscored an Italian crime syndicate's role as a leading player in global cocaine trafficking, police in four countries arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters Wednesday in a series of carefully coordinated raids.

The 'Ndrangheta - whose heartland is the southern Calabria region - is one of the three main mafia groups in Italy, along with the Sicilian mafia and the Camorra.

He also confirmed that there had been raids in Suriname, a small South American country that was once a Dutch colony.

"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.

Investigators said that the 'Ndrangheta had...

"Today we send a clear message to organised crime groups across Europe", Eurojust vice president Filippo Spiezia said.

German prosecutors said 65 premises linked to the southern Italy-based organised crime group were also being searched.

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

In total 41 people were arrested in Italy, 21 in Germany, 14 in Belgium, five in the Netherlands and two in Luxembourg, with operations still underway, Eurojust said.

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".

In Germany, the raids - which are part of Operation Pollino - are focused on the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the mafia has traditionally had a large presence.

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

Italy's chief anti-mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero De Raho, praised the "extraordinary nature of this operation".

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

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.

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