Crackdown on Italian mob prompts dozens of arrests in Europe

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Dozens of suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia were arrested on Wednesday in co-ordinated raids as part of what is being hailed as the biggest ever European Union operation against organised crime.

Eurojust, the European agency that oversees judicial cooperation in criminal investigations, coordinated the worldwide operation codenamed "Pollino" and confirmed that several arrests and seizures had been made in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to control of the cocaine trade and is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors.

"Today we send a clear message to organised crime groups across Europe", Eurojust vice president Filippo Spiezia said.

The crackdown was coordinated by Eurojust, a European unit established to fight cross-border organized crime. They are not the only ones able to operate across borders. On Tuesday, Italian authorities said they had dismantled the rebuilt upper echelons of the Mafia in the Sicilian capital of Palermo by arresting 46 people, including the man presumed to have taken over as provincial kingpin.

"There is no more room for this type of scum in Italy", he added.

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.

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Eurojust said those detained are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery, and violence.

The raids are the culmination of an investigation codenamed Pollino, that started in 2016. "There are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions of euros that should be seized".

In Germany, Wednesday's operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments linked to the mafia group, focused on the North Rhine-Westphalia region, Der Spiegel reported.

But some express caution and said the mafia will continue to pose threat as the group still has resources and is operating across the world.

Members of the notorious 'Ndrangheta Italian mafia have been targeted in a simultaneous police sting in Europe.

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