Published: Thu, December 06, 2018

Crackdown on Italian mob prompts dozens of arrests in Europe

Crackdown on Italian mob prompts dozens of arrests in Europe

Police swooped on locations in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in a series of co-ordinated raids.

Hundreds of police are understood to be involved in the operation in Belgium, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.

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.

Eurojust - the European judicial cooperation body involved - said operation "Pollino" had been in motion since 2016.

Police in Europe and in South America have arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters in a massive worldwide crackdown targeting a powerful branch of Italy's notorious mafia, officials said.

In Germany, federal police said there had been multiple arrests in the early-morning raids on premises linked to the southern Italy-based organized crime group.

"In Germany, we're talking about 47 suspects at the moment, and we have searched 65 premises", said German prosecutor Horst Bien, at a December 5 press conference in The Hague, organized by Eurojust. "They are not the only ones able to operate across borders; so are Europe's judiciary and law enforcement communities", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust.

In Germany, it's the biggest police operation against a mafia clan by German police on German soil, Der Spiegel news magazine reported.


The Eurojust offices in The Hague.

The suspects are thought to be key members of the powerful organised crime syndicate based in southern Italy.

"We should be arresting thousands.their wealth is enormous", he added. he pointed out that the mafia clan's methods are sophisticated and often involve respected members of society like lawyers and accountants acting for them.

Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said they had also probed ice cream parlours, adding that together with restaurants "the suspicion is that the mafia organisation is laundering money through these establishments and they are used as a cover for their criminal organisations". Some 3.6 tonnes of cocaine were traced during the two-year joint investigation.

"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.

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

Dutch NOS television said the 'Ndrangheta were mainly active in the Netherlands in drug smuggling through the country's huge flower export market.

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