About 90 alleged Italian mafia members were arrested Wednesday in a Europe-wide operation spanning across four countries, just a day after the new boss of the Cosa Nostra and 45 other top mobsters were rounded up.
Wednesday's raids were the culmination of a two-year investigation codenamed Pollino against the powerful 'ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, Eurojust said.
'Judicial and law enforcement authorities from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium are now executing arrests and seizures against a Ndrangheta criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, ' European legal cooperation organisation Eurojust said in a statement.
It has approximately 6,000 members, and is believed to control 80-percent of Europe's cocaine trade.
He also confirmed that there had been raids in Suriname, a small South American country that was once a Dutch colony.
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. They are accused of committing "serious crimes" including activities linked to worldwide drug trafficking, Italian police said in a statement.
Investigators said that the 'Ndrangheta had...
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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.
"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia said.
Officials hailed Wednesday's operation - dubbed "Operation Pollina" - as a serious blow to the group.
In January police arrested almost 170 people, including mayors and businessmen and local administrators, in similar raids across Italy and Germany.
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.
Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho said the operations would affect the 'Ndrangheta's drug trafficking operations around the world, including in Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.
Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.