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Berlin, May 4 – International investigators carried out a large-scale operation against members of the Italian Mafia organization ‘Ndrangheta in Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
In Germany alone, more than 1,000 police officers, including special units, carried out searches at around 100 properties, the public prosecutor’s offices and the criminal investigation departments of the federal states said in a joint statement.
Around 30 arrest warrants were enforced during the raids in Germany, reports Xinhua news agency.
The suspects are accused of money laundering, gang tax evasion, commercial gang fraud and narcotics smuggling.
“The purpose of the searches was to find evidence. The investigations, in particular the evaluation of the evidence found, are continuing,” the authorities said.
The operation was an “effective blow against the criminal structures of the ‘Ndrangheta”, Rhineland-Palatinate’s Interior Minister Michael Ebling said on Twitter.
“From today goes out the very clear signal: There is no place for organised crime in Europe.”
The international operation was led by a joint investigation team that also included Europol, the European Union (EU) Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, and Eurojust, the bloc’s agency for criminal justice cooperation.
In total, 132 members of ‘Ndrangheta were taken into custody.
According to Europol, the “mafia-style organisation is responsible for much of Europe’s cocaine trade, combined with systematic money laundering, bribery and violence”.