Around 90 mafia members arrested in raids across Europe

Saul Bowman
December 8, 2018

Several hundred police officers have searched restaurants, offices and apartments in Germany, which are associated with the Italian Mafia organization 'Ndrangheta, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) announced on Wednesday.

The raids in Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Suriname marked the biggest cross-border operation against the 'Ndrangheta, the organised crime group which has risen from kidnappings in Calabria to dominating Europe's drug trade. Most raids took place in the western state of North Rhine Westphalia, but also in the south, in Bavaria.

Officials speak at a press conference detailing 'Operation Pollino, ' a coordinated effort to fight organized crime in Europe, in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

The 'Ndrangheta group comes from Calabria in the south of Italy, it is one of three mafia crime groups, which includes the Camorra, and the Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia.

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.

The Mafia group hails from Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy's boot, and has made substantial inroads in European countries.

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.


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

Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism national prosecutor, said the arrests "are nothing for 'ndrangheta".

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who is Italian, sent "congratulations" to the police forces involved, adding: "Europe fights 'Ndrangheta criminal groups".

On Tuesday, Italian police arrested an alleged Sicilian mafia boss, Settimino Mineo, believed to be the new head of the Cosa Nostra clan.

Dutch outlet NOS said that the 'Ndrangheta is known to operate its drug smuggling through the country's vibrant flower-trading industry.

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 previous year.

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