Police swoop on mafia suspects across Europe

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About 90 suspected mobsters have been arrested across Europe and South America with vast quantities of cocaine and other drugs seized in a mafia purge.

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.

"Today, supported by a coordination center at Eurojust, 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", Wednesday's statement read.

It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to control of the cocaine trade and is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors.

He also confirmed that there had been raids in Suriname, a small South American country that was once a Dutch colony.

Eurojust said Italian authorities arrested 41 suspects mainly in the southern regions of Calabria and Catanzaro.

The group has links with drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico, Italian anti-Mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said in The Hague.

The "unprecedented" crackdown on the group based in Calabria, southern Italy, came just a day after Italian police arrested the new boss of the separate Sicilian mafia.

Some 2 million euros (2.3 million dollars) in criminal assets was seized, Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia said in The Hague.

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

Police also raided an Italian restaurant in Pulheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

In Germany, 14 arrests were made, German prosecutor Horst Bien said.

The 'ndrangheta "is the most important organized crime group in the world", said Gen. Alessandro Barbera, who commands the investigative unit of Italy's financial police corps.

The 'Ndrangheta is considered the leading mafia group that managed to extend its reach even amid the scrutiny and constant arrests.

The raids follow Tuesday's operation against the Sicilian Mafia in Palermo, which resulted in the capture of the syndicate's newly elected leader, 80-year-old jeweller Settimo Mineo, in addition to 45 other suspects.

A 2012 police report showed the Ndrangheta could have as many as a hundred active members in this country.

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where prosecutors got the ball rolling for the investigation in 2014 with probes into two Italian restaurants, and more suspects were detained just over the border in Belgium.

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