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Italian police swoop on organized 8k8 phcrime gang network

庆余年 杀疯了 | 8k8 ph | Updated: 2024-06-20 16:27:26

A general view ahead of a trial against 355 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia, accused of an array of charges, in a High Security Courthouse in Lamezia Terme, Italy, Jan 13, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Law enforcement agencies in Italy have detained more than 100 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta organized crime network in the southern city of Cosenza.

The 'Ndrangheta group has its roots in Calabria, one of Italy's poorest regions, but is reported to have amassed huge wealth through its dominant position in Europe's cocaine trade.

Vincenzo Capomolla, public prosecutor in the southern city of Catanzaro, told reporters that mafia-style groups were "asphyxiating" local businesses through extortion, and using children in their drug trafficking activities.

"Only people authorized by the 'Ndrangheta could traffic drugs …anyone engaged in unauthorized trafficking was punished — financially and physically," he said.

Alleged members of the prominent Lanzino-Patitucci and Zingari clans were targeted in the raids, as well as a customs officer and a financial police officer.

The gang's drugs are often delivered from Latin America in containers carrying timber or food, and are then picked up for distribution by companies owned by crime gangs, police said.

Germany is reportedly one of the group's favored places for money laundering, and in May 2023 more than 130 people were arrested in coordinated raids across Europe, including more than 30 in Germany, at the culmination of a three-year investigation across Europe and South America.

"Today's raids are one of the largest operations carried out so far in the fight against Italian organized crime," Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said at the time, calling the actions a "serious blow" to the organization.

In November 2023, more than 200 gang members were sentenced to more than 2,200 years in prison at the culmination of a trial that began in January 2021.

Around the time of the sentencing, Reuters quoted a biannual report by Italy's Anti-Mafia Investigative Directorate that called the 'Ndrangheta "the absolute dominant force in the criminal world".

It also cited figures produced by Italian research group Eurispes in 2008, which estimated the group's annual turnover at a remarkable 44 billion euros ($48 billion).

At the same time as the latest raids were taking place in the south of Italy, police in the northern city of Turin conducted another operation that resulted in the seizure of a remote-controlled submarine thought to have been used to distribute drugs.

The surprise discovery was made in an investigation of marijuana production under the cover of a company managing car-washing facilities.

A police statement said 204 kilograms of cocaine and hashish were seized during the course of the investigation into the network run by two brothers of Albanian origin, with connections in Ecuador, Belgium, France and Spain.

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