Police launch coordinated raids on Italian mafia in Europe

Policemen raid an ice cafe in Duisburg western Germany on December 5

Policemen raid an ice cafe in Duisburg western Germany on December 5

The global sweep involved police in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium working together against the powerful organised crime syndicate based in southern Italy.

"Today's action, codenamed 'Pollino, ' is the result of an intensive joint investigation that started in 2016 and has been coordinated at European level".

Eurojust, which is based in The Hague, will give more details about the raids at a press conference at 12am.

Around 90 suspected mafia members have been arrested across Europe.

Dozens of suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia were arrested on Wednesday in co-ordinated raids as part of what is being hailed as the biggest ever European Union operation against organised crime.

Germany's Der Spiegel said 65 premises were being searched, including restaurants, apartments and offices, while Belgian media reported that arrests there were concentrated in eastern Limburg province. "They are not the only ones able to operate across borders", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust. "So are Europe's judiciary and law enforcement communities".

Eurojust said those detained are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery, and violence.

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.

Federico Cafiero De Raho, a prosecutor in Italy, told the press conference the investigation would continue, in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

"It's nearly a cliche, but the operation carried out today confirms again the great danger of the 'ndrangheta, not just in drug trafficking, where it's the undisputed leader, but (also) in the financial sphere", said Francesco Ratta, a top police official in the southern Italian region of Calabria.

Bombardieri added that the crime syndicate is not confined to Europe, but it has operations elsewhere in the world, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. "It's an evolved 'ndrangheta, that we can say knows no borders ..."

Cafiero De Raho said the raids are just one stage in a long-term fight against organized crime.

"They are invisible", Cafiero de Raho added.

He said that members of the mafia establish sophisticated networks with links to legitimate businesses and institutions in order to hide their criminal activity.

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