European authorities launch crackdown on Italian mob

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

'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.

Police launched a string of anti-mafia raids on Wednesday, targeting the notorious criminal franchise in Italy, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, according to authorities.

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.

He said that fighting organized crime across state lines "requires judicial instruments like the ones used in this occasion in Europe, which allowed us to coordinate our regulations, and enabled us to counter 'Ndrangheta".

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) also said raids had been carried out on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

The crackdown was coordinated by Eurojust, a European unit established to fight cross-border organized crime. "They are not the only ones able to operate across borders", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust. He was arrested together with with 45 other top mobsters, Italian authorities said Tuesday.

"There is no more room for this type of scum in Italy", he added.

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.

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

Speaking in The Hague, De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".

The Belgian operations were concentrated on the Limburg area, home to many people of Italian descent who moved there after World War II to work in coal mines, Belgian prosecutors said.

Among the 'ndrangheta clans hardest hit by Wednesday's raids was the Pelle-Vottari crime family, investigators said.

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".

He said that members of the mafia establish sophisticated networks with links to legitimate businesses and institutions in order to hide their criminal activity.

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