The police of Italy, Belgium and Germany arrested 31 suspected of trafficking cocaine for the ‘Ndrangheta in a joint operation on Mondaythe powerful mafia from Calabria (south) that is dedicated above all to the business of this substance, reported Europol.
More than 840 officers participated in the joint raids, in which 53 searches were carried out, resulting in the seizure of cash and other property valued at $4.1 million.
The operation is the result of a previous investigation carried out between 2013 and 2018 by the Italian authorities into the activities of the criminal group.
“The suspects were allegedly continuing to use the existing and well-established network to mainly transport cocaine from South America to Germany and Italy through various European ports”, declared Europol, which coordinated the operation with its judicial agency Eurojust.
“To this end, the organized crime group created companies in Germany to facilitate drug smuggling. To cover their drug transports, the group used international companies dedicated to the automobile and food trade,” Europol detailed.
According to the police agency, 18 suspects were arrested in Italy, eight in Belgium and five in Germany.
The ‘Ndrangheta, considered the richest and most powerful mafia in Italy, controls the entry of cocaine into Europe.
Present in more than 40 countries, it has expanded and now uses companies and front men to invest illegal profits in the formal economy.
In early May, Europol reported the arrest of 132 people in another vast operation against the feared mafia.
The consumption of cocaine produced in Latin America skyrockets in Europe, a privileged destination currently for drug traffickers to the detriment of the United States.
Testimony of this increase, numerous bundles of cocaine, hermetically sealed, appeared between the end of February and the beginning of March on the beaches of northwestern France.
On May 11, in a large operation in which 500 agents participated, they arrested 61 members of the ‘Ndrangheta.
The research succeeded in creating “the map of geography” of the ‘Ndrangheta in the municipalities of Mileto, Filandari, Zungri, Briatico and Cessaniti, with the reconstruction of the roles, tasks and dynamics of the bosses, promoters, organizers and participants of the mafia associations, detailed the local media.
These clans stood out, they add, for their “strong economic-business vocation and the ability to build fluid relationships with white-collar workers, politicians and representatives of public administrations”.
In April, Pasquale Bonavota, 49, one of the leaders of ‘Ndrangheta was arrested. He is one of the four most wanted criminals in Italy, suspected of several murders and accused of being the head of a splinter group from the powerful which operates mainly in the southern region and in northern Piedmont and Liguria.
Bonavota was arrested by the Carabinieri, the militarized police, when he tried to enter the Genoa Cathedral with two brothers with false documentation.
According to police sources, the mafia boss lived in an apartment in Saint Theodore while his wife resides in the Sampierdarena district and works as a teacher in a school there.
(With information from AFP)
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