Monday, 17 December, 2018

Around 90 mafia suspects held in global sweep

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group Police launch coordinated raids on Italian mafia in Europe
Pablo Mccormick | 06 December, 2018, 00:48

Police in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium arrested 84 suspects, which included high-ranking members of the mafia network, according to the agency.

Eurojust, the European Union agency that coordinates cross-border crime fighting, announced the raids in a statement.

The busts were part of an investigation codenamed Pollino which was launched in 2016 against the 'ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.

Eurojust said the massive operation was the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Wednesday's operation came a day after Italian police arrested new Cosa Nostra boss Settimino Mineo and dozens of other suspects in Sicily in a major swoop.

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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.

Italian police arrested Settimo Mineo, 80, Tuesday, who authorities believe to be the lead Mafia boss who replaced the late Salvatore Riina.

Dutch chief public prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said police had seized about two million euros, as well as drugs including ecstasy and cocaine.

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.

The 'ndrangheta "is the most important organized crime group in the world", said Gen. Alessandro Barbera, who commands the investigative unit of Italy's financial police corps.

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Authorities said they conducted raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

Police also raided an Italian restaurant in Pulheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Among the 'ndrangheta clans hardest hit by Wednesday's raids was the Pelle-Vottari crime family, investigators 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".

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where prosecutors got the ball rolling for the investigation in 2014 with probes into two Italian restaurants, and more suspects were detained just over the border in Belgium.

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

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