Crack­down on co­caine traf­fick­ing gang

Otago Daily Times - - WORLD -

ROME: Scores of peo­ple were ar­rested in Italy and other Euro­pean coun­tries yes­ter­day in a raid on the ’Ndrangheta co­caine­traf­fick­ing group that of­fi­cials said was the largest sweep of its kind.

Those ar­rested were sus­pected of drug traf­fick­ing, money laun­der­ing, bribery and vi­o­lence, said Ital­ian po­lice and Euro­just, the Euro­pean agency that over­sees ju­di­cial co­op­er­a­tion in crime in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The ar­rests in­clude high­level mem­bers of the ’Ndrangheta, Dutch pros­e­cu­tor Fred Wester­beke said. The group runs its global op­er­a­tions from a base in south­ern Italy.

The group ‘‘con­trols a sub­stan­tial amount of the Euro­pean co­caine traf­fic’’, Wester­beke said, speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence at Euro­just head­quar­ters in The Hague.

He said more than 3000kg of co­caine was seized in the Nether­lands along with 140kg of ec­stasy pills and ¤2 mil­lion in cash.

There had been 41 ar­rests in Italy, 21 in Ger­many, 14 in Bel­gium, five in the Nether­lands, and two in Lux­em­bourg, ac­cord­ing to Euro­pean po­lice agency Europol. One per­son was also ar­rested in Suri­name, a Dutch of­fi­cial said.

The ’Ndrangheta, cen­tred in the Cal­abria re­gion, is one of Italy’s three main or­gan­ised crime groups, along with the Camorra, based in the Naples area, and Si­cily’s Cosa Nos­tra, com­monly known as the Mafia. ‘‘This is not just hap­pen­ing in Italy, it is hap­pen­ing on other coun­tries,’’ warned Ital­ian an­ti­mafia pros­e­cu­tor Fed­erico Cafiero De Raho, who said yes­ter­day’s op­er­a­tion was just a ‘‘first step.’’

He said groups of the ’Ndrangheta and its al­lies had in­fil­trated ports around Europe to ease drug smug­gling, and had ‘‘pol­luted’’ lawyers and ac­coun­tants in nu­mer­ous coun­tries on their pay­rolls.

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