Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Masked police stand in an ice parlor in Duisburg western Germany Wednesday Dec. 5 2018 as authorities conduct coordinated raids in Germany Italy Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the Italian mafia

Law enforcement agents are conducting coordinated raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands in a crackdown on an Italian mob accused of global-scale cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery, and violence.

The suspected mafioso are believed to be involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, violence and bribery, said Eurojust, the European Union agency that coordinates cross-border crime fighting.

Officials speak at a press conference detailing 'Operation Pollino, ' a coordinated effort to fight organized crime in Europe, in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

Italian police said there have been at least 90 arrests, the BBC reported, but the operation is still ongoing elsewhere.

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

The operation was co-ordinated by Eurojust, the European agency that fights cross-border organised crime.

Police arrested dozens of people in Europe and South America in a "decisive hit" against Italy's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia group, officials said Thursday.

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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".

The 'Ndrangheta is considered the leading mafia group that managed to extend its reach even amid the scrutiny and constant arrests. It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to control of the cocaine trade and is the sole mafia organization to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio hailed the operation as "one of the biggest blows inflicted on the mafia" by the Italian authorities. German prosecutors said 47 suspects had been targeted and 65 premises were being searched.

"They are in charge of drug trafficking in Germany, and they launder money by reinvesting it in legitimate businesses like restaurants", said Christian Hoppe, chief criminal director of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office.

But Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italian anti-Mafia and anti-terrorism national prosecutor, also sounded a note of caution, saying that the raids only scratched the surface of the powerful 'ndrangheta, whose tentacles and illicit activities spread all over the world.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained along with at least 45 others just before he was due to be appointed official heir to notorious mafia boss Toto Riina who died in prison a year ago.

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