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Police Arrest Around 90 in Coordinated European Anti-Mafia Raids

Police Arrest Around 90 in Coordinated European Anti-Mafia Raids

Members of the notorious 'Ndrangheta Italian mafia have been targeted in a simultaneous police sting in Europe.

European law enforcement agencies jointly launched Operation Pollino in 2016, looking to put a dent in the 'Ndrangheta's criminal operations.

Hundreds of officers took part in the coordinated operation on Wednesday in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Suriname against the 'Ndrangheta clan, one of Italy's three main organised crime groups.

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) also said raids had been carried out on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Italian police said the sweep targeted the 'Ndrangheta and its "projections across South America".

German federal police said in a statement on December 5 that there had been multiple arrests in the early morning raids on premises linked to the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

Officials hailed Wednesday's operation as a serious blow to the group.

But he warned that it was "just a first step", saying the arrests were "nothing for the 'Ndrangheta, there are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions that should be seized".

As well as arresting dozens of suspected mobsters in Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, police seized drugs and around 2 million euros ($2.3 million).

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"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust, the European Union prosecution agency that coordinated the raids. The focus was on the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders the Netherlands and Belgium, and Bavaria to the south.

According to reports, Italian restaurants and ice cream parlors were used to launder money as well as several businesses and homes across four countries.

Mr De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".

The 'ndrangheta "is the most important organized crime group in the world", said Gen. Alessandro Barbera, who commands the investigative unit of Italy's financial police corps.

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

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

The Wednesday arrests came just a day after the authorities announced the arrest of Settimo Mineo, 80, the presumed new boss of the Cosa Nostra.

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.