Anti-mafia operation in Europe, a hundred suspects targeted

Anti-Mafia operation in Europe, a hundred suspects targeted


A vast police operation against the Calabrian mafia, the 'Ndrangheta, was launched on Wednesday in several European countries, targeting more than a hundred suspects, notably in Germany where the organization is suspected of laundering money from drug trafficking. 

Hundreds of police officers have intervened in five regions of Germany as part of a “large-scale European operation” which targets “leaders and members of the 'Ndrangheta”, several regional prosecutors' offices, including that of Munich.

Operations also took place in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain, adds this press release.

These actions were organized in the framework of “a file opened by the Belgian federal prosecutor's office”, specified the latter, adding that around twenty searches were carried out in Belgium.

In Germany, more than a hundred searches were carried out and around thirty arrest warrants, including four European warrants, were executed, according to the authorities of the Länder of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.

It is in these regions of western and southern Germany that the police interventions were concentrated.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann called the operation a “sensitive blow to the 'Ndrangetha”, a criminal organization based in the Italian region of Calabria (south) and considered the richest and most powerful mafia. of Italy, with a growing global extension covering more than 40 countries.

The investigation concerns, according to the press release, the offenses of “drug trafficking, money laundering, arms trafficking, fraud” as well as “various large-scale tax crimes”.

Ice cream shops and cafes

Authorities in Italy, Germany and Belgium should give more details on the investigations at press conferences scheduled for the day.

According to research by the German media MDR and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the investigation focuses on the criminal activities of clans in the Calabrian locality of San Luca.

The latter allegedly passed from large quantities of cocaine in Europe from countries such as Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador. The drugs were reportedly transported by container ship to ports such as Antwerp, Rotterdam or Gioia Tauro in Calabria.

In order to launder the drug money, the suspects are said to have invested in restaurants, pizzerias, cafes and ice cream parlours, notably in Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Argentina.

A bloody episode had shed light on the establishment of the 'Ndrangheta in Germany: in August 2007, the bodies of six Italians, aged 16 to 39 and members of one of the two San Luca clans, were discovered riddled with bullets in two vehicles in front of the Italian restaurant “Da Bruno” in Duisburg, in the west of the country.

This massacre was, according to investigators, a “vendetta” after the assassination at the end of 2006 of Maria Strangio, wife of Giovanni Nirta, leader of the rival clan.

According to the Bavarian judicial police office , the German authorities acted on Wednesday within the framework of Operation “Eureka”, coordinated by the European offices Europol and Eurojust.

Operation Eureka, launched at European level more than three years ago, is “one of the largest and most significant of recent years in the field of organized crime in Italy”, underlined the Bavarian police.

As part of these investigations, the Italian authorities and Belgians were able to attribute to the 'Ndrangetha the import and trafficking of nearly 25 tons of cocaine, for the period from October 2019 to January 2022, said the same source.

Financial flows of more than 22 million euros from Calabria to Belgium, the Netherlands and South America could also be identified.