Operation Pollino: Italian mafia struck in Europe-wide sting

Pauline Gross
December 6, 2018

Police in Europe and in South America have arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters in a massive global crackdown targeting a powerful branch of Italy's notorious mafia, officials said.

European law enforcement agencies jointly launched Operation Pollino in 2016, looking to put a dent in the 'Ndrangheta's criminal operations.

'Judicial and law enforcement authorities from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium are now executing arrests and seizures against a Ndrangheta criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence, ' European legal cooperation organisation Eurojust said in a statement.

The 'Ndrangheta group comes from Calabria in the south of Italy, it is one of three mafia crime groups, which includes the Camorra, and the Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia. Cocaine and ecstasy pills also were seized in the raids.

At least 90 suspected Sicilian mafia members are under arrest on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.

The European police agency Europol said it was a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world".

Millions of euro in laundered money was seized at the businesses and homes raided across the four countries, officials said, and several "high-ranking" members of 'Ndrangheta are believed to have been among those arrested.

Authorities said they conducted raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

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

Some 2 million euros (2.3 million dollars) in criminal assets was seized, Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia said in The Hague.

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

Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours used to launder money were among the premises raided.

Ndrangheta is a mafia organisation from the south of Italy which has extended its influence to many other countries.

The 'Ndrangheta is considered the leading mafia group that managed to extend its reach even amid the scrutiny and constant arrests.

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.

Other reports by GizPress

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