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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Mass arrests made in Italian mafia raids

The Italian ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate is thought to be responsible for much of the flow of cocaine into Europe

Police arrested upwards of 130 people in raids across several European countries on Wednesday as part of a three-year investigation into the Italian ‘Ndrangheta organized crime group, officials said.

“Today’s raids are one of the largest operations carried out so far in the fight against Italian organized crime,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said of ‘Operation Eureka,’ via Reuters. She added that the raids, which required the coordination of law-enforcement agencies in several countries, had delivered a “serious blow” to the ‘Ndrangheta.

According to EU police agency Europol, the raids followed a lengthy investigation involving authorities in Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Romania, Brazil and Panama into the trafficking of drugs from South America to Europe and Australia. The detained suspects are accused of a litany of crimes, including money laundering, drug smuggling and weapons trafficking, police said on Wednesday.


The criminal gang used Chinese money brokers in Italy and Colombia to transfer funds to pay for drug deals, Italian officials said at a news conference on Wednesday. Europol also stated that the group was involved in gun-running between Pakistan and South America, in particular Brazil.

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The ‘Ndrangheta, which was formed in the Calabria region of southern Italy in the 18th century, is generally considered to be the most powerful mafia group in the country and is thought to be among the primary suppliers of cocaine to Europe.

The mafia group would “flood Europe” with drugs shipped from South America and smuggled into European ports such as Antwerp, Rotterdam or the strategically placed port of Gioia Tauro, Italian prosecutor Giovanni Melillo added on Wednesday, as reported by the BBC. A large network of businesses – including pizzerias, cafes and ice-cream parlors as fronts to launder money were also uncovered as part of the investigation.


“We think that among the arrests were several persons of a high value who played a huge role in the organization,” Belgian federal prosecutor Antoon Schotsaert said of the operation, Reuters reports.

108 people were arrested in Italy and other EU countries on the orders of Italian police, authorities said. A further 24 were arrested in Germany and 13 in Belgium, with Spain and Portugal each arresting a suspect. The German raids involved more than 1,000 police officers searching dozens of locations across various cities.

May 03, 2023 at 11:45PM


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