Police arrest 84 in European crackdown on Italian mob

German police raided a cafe in Duisburg as part of the operation

Image German police raided a cafe in Duisburg as part of the operation

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

"Today, supported by a coordination center at Eurojust, 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", Wednesday's statement read.

Hundreds of police are understood to have been involved in the operation in Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

The 'Ndrangheta, a mafia organisation that operates out of the Calabria region of southern Italy, is one of the world's largest crime syndicates and thought to make billions of euro through cocaine trafficking every year.

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

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

Eurojust, the EU's Judicial Cooperation Unit, is a unit established to fight cross-border organized crime in Europe. They are not the only ones able to operate across borders.

Dutch chief public prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said police had seized about two million euros, as well as drugs including ecstasy and cocaine. He was arrested together with with 45 other top mobsters, Italian authorities said Tuesday.

The 'ndrangheta is Italy's most powerful criminal organization, eclipsing by far Sicily's Cosa Nostra or the Naples area Camorra.

Early-morning raids took place in Italy, the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

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Speaking in The Hague, De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".

"Obviously we have not defeated 'Ndrangheta with this operation - 'Ndrangheta is extremely powerful and extremely rich", he said.

Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italian anti-mafia and anti-terrorism national prosecutor, said the arrests "are nothing for 'ndrangheta".

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

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