Police arrest 84 in European crackdown on Italian mob

Police arrest 84 in European crackdown on Italian mob

Police arrest 84 in European crackdown on Italian mob

About 90 suspected mobsters have been arrested across Europe and South America with vast quantities of cocaine and other drugs seized in a mafia purge.

German federal police confirmed in a statement there had been multiple arrests in the early morning raids, with the main focus of the operation in western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders Holland and Belgium.

The 'Ndrangheta - which derives its meaning from the Greek word for "heroism" - is made up of numerous village and family-based clans in Calabria, the rural, mountainous and under-developed "toe" of Italy's boot.

Officials hailed Wednesday's operation - dubbed "Operation Pollina" - as a serious blow to the group.

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 AD said past year that Dutch police had introduced a special police unit completely dedicated to fighting mafia activities on Dutch soil.

The vast anti-mafia operation was carried out by Italy's anti-mafia and anti-terrorism force in collaboration with German, Belgian and Dutch authorities, it said. They are accused of committing "serious crimes" including activities linked to worldwide drug trafficking, Italian police said in a statement.

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group
Police arrest 84 suspected mafia members in coordinated raids across four European countries

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".

"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.

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

The operation took place one day after Settimo Mineo, the alleged head or "godfather" of the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, was arrested with 46 other people in the Palermo region of Italy, according to the Italian police and anti-Mafia prosecutors in Palermo.

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.

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