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Suspected mafia members arrested in coordinated worldwide raids
06 December 2018, 04:31 | Darnell Patrick
Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group
Dozens of suspected members of the 'Ndranghetamafia were arrested on Wednesday in co-ordinated raids as part of what is being hailed as the biggest ever European Union operation against organised crime.
Wednesday's operation came after a two-year investigation into the Ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.
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.
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. Around 90 arrests were made; 4,000 kilograms (8,820 pounds) of cocaine and 140 kilograms of ecstasy pills were seized.
Italian police said the sweep targeted the 'Ndrangheta and its "projections across South America".
Millions of euro in laundered money was seized at the businesses and homes raided across the four countries, officials said, and several "high-ranking" members of 'Ndrangheta are believed to have been among those arrested.
"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, federal police said there had been multiple arrests in the early morning raids. His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.
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In Germany, Wednesday's operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments, mainly in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria region.
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.
Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours used to launder money were among the premises raided.
But Italy's top Mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero De Raho, also sounded a note of caution, saying the raids only scratched the surface of the powerful 'ndrangheta, whose tentacles and illicit activities, including huge cocaine trafficking operations, were spread all over the world.
European police agency Europol called it a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world".
A 2012 police report showed the Ndrangheta could have as many as a hundred active members in this country.
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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