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06 December 2018, 04:32 | Devin Moran
Image German police raided a cafe in Duisburg as part of the operation
Dozens of suspected members of the 'Ndranghetamafia were arrested on Wednesday in co-ordinated raids as part of what is being hailed as the biggest ever European Union operation against organised crime.
Almost 90 people including high-ranking members of the powerful organised crime syndicate accused of drug trafficking and money laundering were arrested in coordinated raids in six countries, European Union justice agency Eurojust said.
In an investigation that underscored an Italian crime syndicate's role as a leading player in global cocaine trafficking, police in four countries arrested at least 84 suspected mobsters Wednesday in a series of carefully coordinated raids.
'Ndrangheta is thought to control as much as 80 percent of the cocaine trade in Europe, according to the BBC, and boasts around 6,000 members.
Specifically, over three tonnes of cocaine and 140kg of ecstasy were seized in the coordinated raids, with several mafia-owned Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours stormed.
Italian police said the sweep targeted the 'Ndrangheta and its "projections across South America".
Giovanni Bombardieri, an Italian prosecutor, said that "sophisticated investigative techniques" were used to monitor the crime group's operations and communications, and characterized the violence linked to 'Ndrangheta as tantamount to "carnage".
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.
The country's deputy prime minister, Luigi di Maio, said the arrests were "one of the biggest blows inflicted on the mafia by the state".
The operation's success sent a "clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", Spiezia said. His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.
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.
The raids came a day after Italian police arrested Settimo Mineo, the new head of Sicily's Cosa Nostra mafia.
The 'Ndrangheta is considered the leading mafia group that managed to extend its reach even amid the scrutiny and constant arrests.
Dutch NOS television said the 'Ndrangheta were mainly active in the Netherlands in drug smuggling through the country's huge flower export market.
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.
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