Dozens of ‘Ndrangheta mafia suspects held

THE HAGUE: Police arrested dozens of suspected mobsters in Europe and South America on Wednesday in a huge international swoop targeting Italy’s notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan, officials said.
Around 90 people accused of involvement in drug trafficking, money laundering and violent crime were arrested in raids in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname.
Hundreds of police took part in the operation, seizing four tonnes of cocaine, 120 kg of ecstasy and two million euros (dollars) in cash from locations including Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours.
The crackdown on the powerful organised crime syndicate based in Calabria, southern Italy, came just a day after Italian police arrested the new boss of the separate Sicilian mafia.
“Today we have issued a clear message to criminal alliances across Europe, and they are not the only ones who can work across borders,” Filippo Spiezia, deputy head of the EU’s judicial agency Eurojust, told a press conference in The Hague.
He said the “unprecedented and extraordinary result” targeted “dangerous members of the ‘Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering”.
The ‘Ndrangheta — which derives its meaning from the Greek word for heroism — is made up of numerous village and family-based clans in Calabria, the rural, mountainous and under-developed “toe” of Italy’s boot.
Despite intense police attention and frequent arrests, the organisation has continued to extend its reach.
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 organisation to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors. Officials hailed Wednesday’s operation — dubbed “Operation Pollina” — as a serious blow to the group.
Italian police said 90 people had been arrested in all countries in the sweep targeting the ‘Ndrangheta and its “projections across South America.”
In Germany, Wednesday’s operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments, mainly in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria region. — AFP