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Scores arrested in massive European Union crackdown on organised crime network

Scores arrested in massive European Union crackdown on organised crime network

Law enforcement and judicial officials speak at a press conference organized by Eurojust in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.

The 'Ndrangheta mafia comes from Calabria in southern Italy.

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.

Italian police hailed the cooperation between European police forces, saying it was an important new crime-fighting tactic that allowed investigators in different countries to share information in real time.

He said the "unprecedented and extraordinary result", the fruit of a two-year operation, targeted "dangerous members of the 'Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

The 'Ndrangheta mafia are considered to be one of the most powerful organized crime syndicates in Italy, involved in drugs and firearms trafficking, prostitution, racketeering and shark loaning.

"This is just a first step", said Cafiero De Raho, and added that "currently in Italy, we have 25 billion euros in assets that have been seized from 'Ndrangheta and other criminal organizations, and probably there will be another 25 billion seized". His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.

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The presumed new boss of the Cosa Nostra was arrested together with 45 other top mobsters, Italian authorities, striking a massive blow to the resurgent Sicilian Mafia.

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

Wednesday's raids were the culmination of an investigation codenamed "Pollino" that was launched in 2016 against the 'Ndrangheta.

In Germany, the raids are focused on the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the mafia has traditionally had a large presence.

The 'Ndrangheta was also involved in the 2007 Duisburg murders, where six people were killed.

It is the only mafia organisation operating on all continents, say prosecutors, and is believed to now be the most influential Italian organised-crime group.

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