Police arrested dozens of people in Europe and South America in a "decisive hit" against Italy's notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia group, officials said yesterday. The arrests in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium came as part of an investigation codenamed Pollino that was launched in 2016 against the the criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, said Eurojust, the European agency that fights cross-border organized crime, which coordinated the operation.
Italian police said 90 people had been arrested so far in the operation targeting the ‘Ndrangheta group and its "projections across South America." 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. Italian media said key organized crime family members were targeted.
The European police agency Europol said it was a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world."
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who is Italian, sent "congratulations" to the police forces involved, adding: "Europe fights ‘Ndrangheta criminal groups."
The ‘Ndrangheta, which derives its meaning from the Greek word for "heroism," is made up of numerous village and family-based clans in Calabria, the rural, mountainous and under-developed "toe" of Italy's boot. Despite intense police attention and frequent arrests, the organization has continued to extend its reach. It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to its control of the cocaine trade, and is the sole mafia organization to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors. The Europe-wide operation came a day after Italian police arrested new Cosa Nostra boss Settimino Mineo and dozens of other suspects in Sicily in a major swoop.