Around 90 mafia suspects held in worldwide sweep

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Police are carrying out raids on homes at several locations in the Netherlands on Wednesday morning as part of a Europe-wide campaign against a Calabrian mafia organisation.

The raids were the culmination of an investigation codenamed Pollino that was launched in 2016 against the 'Ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, said Eurojust, the European agency that fights cross-border organized crime, which coordinated the operation.

'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.

The 'Ndrangheta mafia are considered to be one of the most powerful organized crime syndicates in Italy, involved in drugs and firearms trafficking, prostitution, racketeering and shark loaning.

Masked federal police stand in an ice cream parlour in Duisburg, western Germany, as authorities conduct coordinated raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the Italian mafia.

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Italian police said 90 people had been arrested so far in the operation targeting the 'Ndrangheta group and its "projections across South America".

"Today, we send a clear message to organised crime groups across Europe".

Police also raided an Italian restaurant in Pulheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. "There are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions of euros that should be seized".

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio hailed the operation as "one of the biggest blows inflicted on the mafia" by the Italian authorities.

The 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate, which comes from Italy's Calabria region, is widely believed to be the most powerful Italian mafia organization, with massive rackets in money laundering and cocaine dealing.

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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 in Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Dutch NOS television said the 'Ndrangheta were mainly active in the Netherlands in drug smuggling through the country's huge flower export market.

The Wednesday arrests came just a day after the authorities announced the arrest of Settimo Mineo, 80, the presumed new boss of the Cosa Nostra.

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 were detained just over the border in Belgium.

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