Suspected mafia members arrested in coordinated global raids

German police raided a cafe in Duisburg as part of the operation

Image German police raided a cafe in Duisburg as part of the operation

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

Police launched a string of anti-mafia raids on Wednesday, targeting the notorious criminal franchise in Italy, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, according to authorities.

The 'Ndrangheta - whose heartland is the southern Calabria region - is one of the three main mafia groups in Italy, along with the Sicilian mafia and the Camorra.

He said that fighting organized crime across state lines "requires judicial instruments like the ones used in this occasion in Europe, which allowed us to coordinate our regulations, and enabled us to counter 'Ndrangheta".

European officials announced the arrests at the Hague headquarters of Eurojust, the European Union prosecutors agency set up to bolster the fight against cross-border crime in the 28-nation bloc.

Law enforcement and judicial officials speak at a press conference organized by Eurojust in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

He said over 3,000 kilogrammes of cocaine was seized in the Netherlands along with 140 kilogrammes of ecstasy pills and 2 million Euros in cash.

He said the "unprecedented and extraordinary result", the fruit of a two-year operation, targeted "dangerous members of the 'Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

Among the 'ndrangheta clans hardest hit by Wednesday's raids was the Pelle-Vottari crime family, investigators said.

Germany's Der Spiegel reported that the German operation was mostly concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia - a stronghold for the mafia - and involved 240 police and another 240 support staff from the federal criminal agency. Italian authorities said raids were also conducted in South America.

Hoppe said the crime organization's drug trafficking operations are extensive and sophisticated, with the use of "human money mules and vehicles with special hiding compartments". "There are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions of euros that should be seized".

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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