Around 90 mafia suspects held in worldwide sweep

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

The global sweep involved police in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium working together against the powerful organised crime syndicate based in southern Italy.

Eurojust, the European agency that oversees judicial cooperation in criminal investigations, coordinated the worldwide operation codenamed "Pollino" and confirmed that several arrests and seizures had been made in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

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

Germany's Der Spiegel reported that the German operation was mostly concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia - a stronghold for the mafia - and involved 240 police and another 240 support staff from the federal criminal agency.

Eurojust, the EU's Judicial Cooperation Unit, is a unit established to fight cross-border organized crime in Europe.

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where Dutch prosecutors said the investigation began in 2014 after they noticed money laundering at two Italian restaurants in the south that showed criminal links with Germany and Calabria, home of the 'Ndrangheta. "There are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions of euros that should be seized".

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A total of 200 million euros ($227 million) of criminal money, as well as 140 kg of ecstasy pills and more than 3,000 kg of cocaine were seized.

But some express caution and said the mafia will continue to pose threat as the group still has resources and is operating across the world.

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.

He said that groups of the 'Ndrangheta and its allies had infiltrated ports around Europe to ease drug smuggling, and have "polluted" lawyers and accountants in numerous countries on their payrolls.

Wednesday's raids come a day after the new suspected head of the Cosa Nostra and 45 other alleged gangsters were arrested.

Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained along with at least 45 others just before he was due to be appointed official heir to notorious mafia boss Toto Riina who died in prison a year ago.

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