Police Target ‘Ndrangheta Italian Mafia in Raids Across Europe

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Early-morning raids took place in Italy, the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Further details were not immediately available but Eurojust scheduled a news conference for later in the day in The Hague.

'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.

Italian police hailed the co-operation between European police forces co-ordinated by Eurojust, saying it was an important new crime-fighting tactic that allowed investigators in different countries to share information in real time.

"In Germany, we're talking about 47 suspects at the moment, and we have searched 65 premises", said German prosecutor Horst Bien, at a December 5 press conference in The Hague, organized by Eurojust. "They are not the only ones able to operate across borders; so are Europe's judiciary and law enforcement communities", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust.

He said the "unprecedented and extraordinary result", the fruit of a two-year operation, targeted "dangerous members of the 'Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group
Police arrest 84 suspected mafia members in coordinated raids across four European countries

Giovanni Bombardieri, an Italian prosecutor, speaks at the Eurojust press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018. It has approximately 6,000 members, and is believed to control 80-percent of Europe's cocaine trade.

Dutch prosecutors said the investigation began after they noticed money laundering at two Italian restaurants in the southern Netherlands that showed criminal links with Germany and Calabria, home of the 'Ndrangheta.

Hoppe said the crime organization's drug trafficking operations are extensive and sophisticated, with the use of "human money mules and vehicles with special hiding compartments".

Federico Cafiero De Raho, a prosecutor in Italy, told the press conference the investigation would continue, in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

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.

Mr De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta". He warned: "they will never give up - but nor shall we".

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