Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

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Police arrested dozens of people in Europe and South America in a "decisive hit" against Italy's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia group, officials said Thursday.

Almost 90 people including high-ranking members of the powerful organised crime syndicate accused of drug trafficking and money laundering were arrested in coordinated raids in six countries, European Union justice agency Eurojust said.

Police are carrying out raids on homes at several locations in the Netherlands on Wednesday morning as part of a Europe-wide campaign against a Calabrian mafia organisation.

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".

Eurojust said Italian authorities arrested 41 suspects mainly in the southern regions of Catanzaro and Calabria, the base of the 'Ndrangheta organised crime group.

Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor of the Dutch Prosecutor's office, said authorities seized roughly $2.27 million in the raids, along with amounts of ecstasy and cocaine.

The operation was co-ordinated by Eurojust, the European agency that fights cross-border organised crime. "They are not the only ones able to operate across borders", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust.

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The 'ndrangheta is Italy's most powerful criminal organization, eclipsing by far Sicily's Cosa Nostra or the Naples area Camorra.

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

He said the "unprecedented and extraordinary result" targeted "dangerous members of the 'Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

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.

"One person was also arrested in Suriname, " a Dutch official said.

The raids are the culmination of an investigation codenamed Pollino, that started in 2016. They are accused of committing "serious crimes" including activities linked to worldwide drug trafficking, Italian police said in a statement.

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