Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia hit by huge international sweep

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Law enforcement and judicial officials speak at a press conference organized by Eurojust in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

Officials said by midday of the operation, nearly 4,000 kilos of cocaine and hundreds of kilos of other drugs were seized.

"Today, supported by a coordination center at Eurojust, 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", Wednesday's statement read.

Authorities in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands launched coordinated raids Wednesday in a crackdown on the Italian mafia.

Dutch chief public prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said dozens of raids also netted about 2 million euros (£1.7 million) in criminal proceeds as well as drugs including ecstasy and cocaine.

"There is no more room for this type of scum in Italy".

Italian police hailed the close cooperation between European police forces and Eurojust's coordination, saying it was an important new crime-fighting tactic that allowed investigators in different countries to share information in real time.

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At least 90 suspected Sicilian mafia members are under arrest on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.

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.

Speaking in The Hague, De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".

The raids are the culmination of an investigation codenamed Pollino, that started in 2016. There should be over 1,000 arrests and billions of euros should be seized.

In Germany, the operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments, mainly in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, with 21 suspects targeted.

In August 2007, 'Ndrangheta caused an worldwide uproar when six people were shot in front of an Italian restaurant in the German city of Duisburg.

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where Dutch prosecutors said the investigation began in 2014 after they noticed money laundering at two Italian restaurants in the south that showed criminal links with Germany and Calabria, home of the 'Ndrangheta.

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