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Over 150 suspects arrested in German-Italian anti-mafia sweep

12 January 2018

According to a 2013 "Threat Assessment on Italian Organised Crime" report by Europol, the 'Ndrangheta is one of the world's most powerful organised crime groups and is believed to now operate across Europe, South America, Africa, North America and Oceania.

Rome - Italian and German police have rounded up more than 100 suspects in a vast anti-mafia operation in the two countries, cracking open a crime empire that grew rich on bread, wine and funeral services. Italy's paramilitary Carabinieri police said the arrests had dismantled a major clan of the feared 'Ndrangheta crime group.

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According to Eurojust, the January 9 operation was the culmination of lengthy and complex investigations, initiated and conducted in Italy by the Reparto Operativo Speciale (ROS) under the leadership of the Procura della Repubblica - Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia (DDA) of Catanzaro.

Some 10 public officials were among those arrested, including three local mayors in the Calabrian province of Crotone, according to state broadcaster RAI News 24. And they said that Italian restaurants in Germany, meanwhile, were forced to import Italian wine, olive oil and other goods from a clan-controlled Italian restaurant association. The arrests took place in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. Some 50 million euros of assets were also seized as part of the raids.

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The aim was "to limit the use of violence as much as possible and avoid the internal struggles that are bad for business", Italian police said in a statement. The gang was planning to expand into Switzerland, the BBC reported.

Some were arrested on suspicion of blackmail, attempted murder, money laundering and other organised crime offences.

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Over 150 suspects arrested in German-Italian anti-mafia sweep