New sweep nabs accused Italian Mafia figures across Europe

Frederick Owens
December 6, 2018

Police in Europe and in South America have arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters in a massive worldwide crackdown targeting a powerful branch of Italy's notorious mafia, officials said.

Those arrested are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, said Italian police and Eurojust, the European prosecution agency that tackles cross-border organised crime.

The global sweep involved police in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium working together against the powerful organised crime syndicate based in southern Italy.

Specifically, over three tonnes of cocaine and 140kg of ecstasy were seized in the coordinated raids, with several mafia-owned Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours stormed.

Italian police said 90 people had been arrested so far in the operation targeting the 'Ndrangheta group and its "projections across South America".

"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust, the European Union prosecution agency that coordinated the raids.

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.

In Germany, federal police said there had been multiple arrests in the early-morning raids on premises linked to the southern Italy-based organized crime group.

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The Mafia group hails from Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy's boot, and has made substantial inroads in European countries.

As well as arresting dozens of suspected mobsters in Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, police seized drugs and around 2 million euros ($2.3 million). His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.

The Belgian operations were concentrated on the Limburg area, home to many people of Italian descent who moved there after World War II to work in coal mines, Belgian prosecutors said.

"This is just a first step", said Cafiero De Raho, and added that "currently in Italy, we have 25 billion euros in assets that have been seized from 'Ndrangheta and other criminal organizations, and probably there will be another 25 billion seized".

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

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

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.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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