Police Arrest Around 90 in Coordinated European Anti-Mafia Raids

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

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

Hundreds of police in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands have arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters and seized about $3.1 million in a series of coordinated raids targeting a powerful branch of the Italian mafia.

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.

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. Operation Pollino is being coordinated by the EU's Judicial Cooperation Unit, Eurojust.

The 'Ndrangheta is considered the leading mafia group that managed to extend its reach even amid the scrutiny and constant arrests.

The group surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra groups, according to AFP, due to its tight on the control of cocaine trade.

Scores of members of the 'Ndrangheta Italian mafia group have been arrested in raids across Europe.

Dutch chief public prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said dozens of raids also netted about 2 million euros (£1.7 million) in criminal proceeds as well as drugs including ecstasy and cocaine.

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.

Officials hailed Wednesday's operation as a serious blow to the group. They are accused of committing "serious crimes" including activities linked to worldwide drug trafficking, Italian police said in a statement.

The investigation also involved operations in the South American country of Suriname.

The European police agency Europol said it was a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world".

It is the only mafia organisation operating on all continents, say prosecutors, and is believed to now be the most influential Italian organised-crime group.

The raids follow Tuesday's operation against the Sicilian Mafia in Palermo, which resulted in the capture of the syndicate's newly elected leader, 80-year-old jeweller Settimo Mineo, in addition to 45 other suspects.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained 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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