The SPD domestic politician Sebastian Fiedler sees the Italian mafia organization 'Ndrangheta responsible for a "cocaine glut" in Germany.
"We have an extreme drug problem here, which is based on the activities of the 'Ndrangheta, among others," said the criminal policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the Berlin daily "Tagesspiegel". "In Germany we have a cocaine glut with massive negative health consequences." Although large quantities of cocaine are constantly seized, the market price does not change.
Yesterday, around 150 suspected mafiosi were arrested in several countries in one of the largest raids in Europe against the 'Ndrangheta. In Germany alone, around 30 arrest warrants were executed in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria and Saarland. Most of the suspects were arrested in Italy.
According to Fiedler, Germany is "a popular place for money laundering" for the mafia. The former chairman of the Association of German Detectives said: "Cash-intensive small businesses such as restaurants and ice cream parlors are used to launder money from criminal businesses." In addition, Germany is attractive as a place of rest and retreat for the mafia.
Reul: Mafia structures in NRW have grown for decades
According to Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU), the mafia has been active in North Rhine-Westphalia for decades. "It has grown for decades, a criminal structure, just smarter than the clans and in secret," said Reul in an interview with the news podcast "The Pioneer". "They use normal channels, they buy houses, they buy cars, they have ice cream parlors. They give the impression that there is a huge turnover, but in reality money is being laundered." It is therefore no wonder that the mafia uses economically strong areas such as North Rhine-Westphalia as a retreat.
According to Reul, the mafia is particularly strong in Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia "because we love cash". Since many transactions are made with cash in this country, there are also many ways to launder money. "Cash infatuation is one of the main problems," said Reul.
"Even big things like buying real estate and cars are very often done with cash in Germany. There are limits, but the question has to be asked, are they actually enough if we want to get it under control."