ROME (AFP) – Italy led a Europe-wide police operation on Wednesday (May 5) against the ‘Ndrangheta organised crime group, seizing cocaine and millions of euros in assets in early morning raids.
Several hundred police and officials in Italy, Germany, Spain and Romania were involved in the operation aimed at breaking up drug trafficking and tax evasion rings linked to the powerful Italian mafia group.
The operation was led by prosecutors in Turin and targeted two alleged clans of the ‘Ndrangheta, the Agresta and the Giorgi families, Italian anti-mafia investigators said.
Their associates are accused of organising the cocaine trade between Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, communicating via encrypted messages, and then laundering the profits through commercial enterprises.
German police and prosecutors reported evidence of “organised VAT evasion” on food imported from Italy into bars and restaurants in Germany.
Orders had been issued to seize around four million euros worth of assets in Italy and around two million in Germany, they said in a statement.
The details of the raids were confirmed by the European Union’s police and justice agencies, Europol and Eurojust.
They added that weapons, cocaine, two luxury vehicles and jewellery were also seized, and bank accounts were frozen.
More than 80 searches were conducted and 33 arrest warrants were issued, while hundreds of grams cocaine and millions of euros in assets were seized, according to Italian and German authorities.
Most of the arrest warrants – 30 out of 33 – were in Italy rather than in Germany, because the suspects had stayed there during the coronavirus pandemic, German authorities said.
Some 500 police officers and tax investigators were involved in the raids in Germany, with another 300 officials in Italy alongside others in Spain and Romania.
At a press conference, Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said wider cooperation was needed to tackle organised crime.
Denouncing the “great danger” of the ‘Ndrangheta, he called for a “global intervention, not only at a European level” to tackle such groups.
Based in Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy’s boot, the ‘Ndrangheta is considered one of the world’s most powerful crime syndicates due to its control of most of the cocaine entering Europe.
It has extended its reach across all parts of the world, and it has long surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra as Italy’s biggest mafia organisation.
Its presence in Germany was confirmed in 2007 when six people were killed outside a pizzeria in the town of Duisburg.
The victims were rival clan members killed as part of a long-running feud between families from the town of Calabria’s San Luca, home to the Giorgi family.
Join ST’s Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.
Source: Read Full Article