At least 90 Ndrangheta mafia members arrested in Europe-wide raids

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

Dozens of suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia 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.

'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.

'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. Cocaine and ecstasy pills also were seized in the raids.

He said the "unprecedented and extraordinary result", the fruit of a two-year operation, targeted "dangerous members of the 'Ndrangheta family deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

Masked federal police stand in an ice cream parlour in Duisburg, western Germany, as authorities conduct coordinated raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the Italian mafia.

The group has links with drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico, Italian anti-Mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said in The Hague.

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

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In Germany, the operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments, mainly in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, with 21 suspects targeted.

"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", said Filippo Spiezia, vice president of Eurojust, the European Union prosecution agency that coordinated the raids.

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

In Germany, the raids constituted the country's greatest strike against the mafia, arresting 14 suspects.

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

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.

"This is just a first step", said Cafiero De Raho, and added that "currently in Italy, we have 25 billion euros in assets that have been seized from 'Ndrangheta and other criminal organizations, and probably there will be another 25 billion seized".

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