World Media

Europe continues Mafia crackdown, arrests 90 in continent-wide raids

Europe continues Mafia crackdown, arrests 90 in continent-wide raids

"They are not the only ones able to operate across borders; so are Europe's judiciary and law enforcement communities", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust.

Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho said the operations would affect the 'Ndrangheta's drug trafficking operations around the world, including Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil.

Eurojust, the European agency that oversees judicial cooperation in criminal investigations, coordinated the worldwide operation codenamed "Pollino" and confirmed that several arrests and seizures had been made in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

Police launched a string of anti-mafia raids on Wednesday, targeting the notorious criminal franchise in Italy, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, according to authorities. Italian authorities say that further raids were conducted in South America.

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.

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"One person was also arrested in Suriname, " a Dutch official said.

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

Using an often family-based network spread out around Europe, drugs would come into the Dutch port of Rotterdam and the Belgian port of Antwerp before being moved around the continent.

He said over 3,000 kilogrammes of cocaine was seized in the Netherlands along with 140 kilogrammes of ecstasy pills and 2 million Euros in cash.

But some express caution and said the mafia will continue to pose threat as the group still has resources and is operating across the world.

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Two arrests were made in Luxembourg, and five in the Netherlands, Eurojust said.

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

On Tuesday, the man accused of being the head of the Sicilian mafia, Settimo Mineo, an 80-year-old jeweller, was pictured being led away as police on the Italian island scooped up dozens of other suspected mafia members.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained along 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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