Joint investigative teams involving police in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are targeting members of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Agency and Italy's Polizia di Stato confirmed after several media outlets had reported the story.
'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.
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.
Officials speak at a press conference detailing 'Operation Pollino, ' a coordinated effort to fight organized crime in Europe, in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 5, 2018.
"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.
Investigators said that the 'Ndrangheta had...
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.
Hoppe said the crime organization's drug trafficking operations are extensive and sophisticated, with the use of "human money mules and vehicles with special hiding compartments".
Officials hailed Wednesday's operation as a serious blow to the group.
The European police agency Europol said it was a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world".
"This is not just happening in Italy, it is happening on other countries", Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho warned and said Wednesday's operation was just a "first step".
It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to its control of the cocaine trade, and is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors. His arrest was among the 46 people taken into custody.
A 2012 police report showed the Ndrangheta could have as many as a hundred active members in this country.
Italian police arrested Settimo Mineo, 80, Tuesday, who authorities believe to be the lead Mafia boss who replaced the late Salvatore Riina.
Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.