Net closes on biggest mafia group
Police arrested dozens of people in Europe and South America in a decisive hit against Italy’s notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia group, officials have said.
The international sweep involved police in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium working together against the powerful organised crime syndicate based in southern Italy.
The group was involved in “cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence”, the European judicial agency Eurojust said.
It said the operation codenamed “Pollino” followed an investigation that had begun in 2016, and it would give more details later.
Italian police said 90 people had been arrested so far in the operation targeting the ‘Ndrangheta group and its “projections across South America”.
The vast anti-mafia operation had been carried out by Italy’s anti-mafia and anti-terrorism force in collaboration with German, Belgian and Dutch authorities, it said.
Italian media said key organised crime family members had been targeted.
The European police agency, Europol, said it was a decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world.
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 underdeveloped “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 Naples’s Camorra in influence thanks to its control of the cocaine trade, and is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents, according to prosecutors.
The Europe-wide operation
The ‘Ndrangheta is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents
came a day after Italian police arrested new Cosa Nostra boss Settimino Mineo and dozens of other suspects in Sicily in a major swoop.
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 in 2017.
In Germany, Wednesday’s operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments linked to the group, focused on the North Rhine-Westphalia region, Der Spiegel reported.
Dutch NOS television said the ‘Ndrangheta were mainly active in the Netherlands in drug smuggling through the country’s huge flower export market.
MAJOR SWOOP: Settimino Mineo, jeweller and new head of the Sicilian mafia, is escorted by police after his arrest. Police also swooped on dozens of other suspects in Sicily in a major coup