Dutch police raid 'dozens' of homes in European mafia crackdown

Italian police identifies migrants in a camp set by the Baobab aid group in Rome Italy

Masked police stand in an ice parlor in Duisburg, western Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 as authorities conduct coordinated raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the Italian mafia.

The suspected mafioso are believed to be involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, violence and bribery, said Eurojust, the European Union agency that coordinates cross-border crime fighting.

Police swooped just a day after the alleged "godfather" of the Sicilian mafia was arrested, along with 45 other suspected mobsters.

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".

Dutch prosecutors said the investigation began after they noticed money laundering at two Italian restaurants in the southern Netherlands that showed criminal links with Germany and Calabria, home of the 'Ndrangheta. Throughout the two-year joint investigation, some four tons of cocaine were seized.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who is Italian, sent "congratulations" to the police forces involved, adding: "Europe fights 'Ndrangheta criminal groups".

But Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italian anti-Mafia and anti-terrorism national prosecutor, also sounded a note of caution, saying that the raids only scratched the surface of the powerful 'ndrangheta, whose tentacles and illicit activities spread all over the world.

Despite intense police attention and frequent arrests, the organization has continued to extend its reach. "There are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions of euros that should be seized".

The group surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra groups, according to AFP, due to its tight on the control of cocaine trade.

On Tuesday, the man accused of being the head of the Sicilian mafia, Settimo Mineo, an 80-year-old jeweller, was pictured being led away as police on the Italian island scooped up dozens of other suspected mafia members.

Officials hailed Wednesday's operation - dubbed "Operation Pollina" - as a serious blow to the group.

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 past year.

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