90 held across Europe in Anti-mafia raids

Ninety people have been arrested in a series of operations targeting suspected ‘Ndrangheta members across Europe and in Suriname, South America, officials said Wednesday.

Raids are taking place across Europe in Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium, an Italian police statement said. Charges include international drugs trafficking, Mafia associations, money laundering, and real estate fraud.

The operation was taking place one day after the alleged head, or “godfather,” of the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, was arrested with 46 other people in the Palermo region of Italy on Mafia charges, according to Italian police and anti-Mafia prosecutors in Palermo.

‘Ndrangheta has its roots in Calabria, southern Italy, but over the decades has developed into a powerful international criminal organization.

Wednesday’s operation is being coordinated by the EU agency Eurojust, which supports judicial coordination between EU member states.

In a statement, Eurojust said the multi-national operation was the “biggest of its kind to date in Europe,” involving several hundred police officers and intense joint investigative efforts since 2016.

“This aggressive, mafia-style organized criminal group is one of the most powerful criminal networks in the world, and controls much of Europe’s cocaine trade, combined with systematic money laundering, bribery, and violent acts,” it said.

Almost 4,000 kilograms of cocaine and hundreds of kilos of other drugs have been detected across Europe during the course of the investigation, it said, and an estimated 2 million euros in criminal assets are expected to be seized.

Suspects include high-ranking members of the Mafia network, Eurojust added. Seventy people were arrested in Italy and 14 in Germany. It’s not yet been announced where the other six arrests took place.

Filippo Spiezia, vice-president of Eurojust and a national member for Italy, said: “Today, we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe. They are not the only ones able to operate across borders; so are Europe’s judiciary and law enforcement communities.”

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, added his congratulations to all the law enforcement agencies involved in the operation.

“Europe fights ‘Ndrangheta criminal groups. A Eurojust coordinated operation led to arresting over 90 people involved in drug trafficking & money laundering,” he tweeted.

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