Operation Pollino: Italian mafia struck in Europe-wide sting

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

In a major worldwide campaign against the Italian mafia clan 'Ndrangheta, a total of 90 arrests were made on Wednesday, European judicial cooperation authority Eurojust announced here.

Almost 90 people including high-ranking members of the powerful organised crime syndicate accused of drug trafficking and money laundering were arrested in coordinated raids in six countries, European Union justice agency Eurojust said.

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

The Ndrangheta mafia operates from Calabria in southern Italy and is one of the world's largest crime syndicates, controlling as much as 80 percent of Europe's cocaine trade.

Report says the group runs its global operations from a base in southern Italy.

Some 140 kilograms of ecstasy pills and 3 000-4 000 kilos of cocaine were seized during the operation, Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said at a press conference in The Hague on Wednesday.

"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia said.

Operation Pollino was co-ordinated by Eurojust, the EU's cross-border justice authority, which described it as a "decisive" intervention against organised crime.

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

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

Mr De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".

But he warned that it was "just a first step", saying the arrests were "nothing for the 'Ndrangheta, there are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions that should be seized".

Germany's Der Spiegel reported that the German operation was mostly concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia - a stronghold for the mafia - and involved 240 police and another 240 support staff from the federal criminal agency.

'Ndrangheta is one of five major world crime organizations operating out of Italy.

Italian prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho told reporters on Monday that he expects an ongoing investigation into 'Ndrangheta and that what the arrests made so far are "nothing to them".

Eurojust said those arrested Wednesday included "high-ranking members of the Mafia network", but didn't release their names.

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