Police swoop on mafia suspects across Europe

Police swoop on mafia suspects across Europe

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.

The arrests came following an investigation dubbed Pollino that was launched in 2016 against the Italian mafia over allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.

Report says the group runs its global operations from a base in southern Italy.

Further details were not immediately available but Eurojust scheduled a news conference for later in the day in The Hague.

The operation's success sent a "clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", Spiezia said.

The 'Ndrangheta, centered in the Calabria region, is one of Italy's three main organised crime groups, along with the Camorra, which is based in the Naples area, and Sicily's Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia.

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

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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.

The European police agency Europol said it was a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world". There should be over 1,000 arrests and billions of euros should be seized.

"This is not just happening in Italy, it is happening on other countries", Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho warned and said Wednesday's operation was just a "first step".

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where prosecutors got the ball rolling for the investigation in 2014 with probes into two Italian restaurants, and more suspects were detained just over the border in Belgium.

The raids follow Tuesday's operation against the Sicilian Mafia in Palermo, which resulted in the capture of the syndicate's newly elected leader, 80-year-old jeweller Settimo Mineo, in addition to 45 other suspects.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained with at least 45 others just before he was due to be appointed official heir to notorious mafia boss Toto Riina, who died in prison a year ago.

Dutch outlet NOS said that the 'Ndrangheta is known to operate its drug smuggling through the country's vibrant flower-trading industry.

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