Police in large-scale operation: Raid against Italian mafia 'Ndrangheta - arrests

With a large-scale operation in several federal states, the police took action against members of the Italian mafia 'Ndrangheta on Wednesday.

Police in large-scale operation: Raid against Italian mafia 'Ndrangheta - arrests

With a large-scale operation in several federal states, the police took action against members of the Italian mafia 'Ndrangheta on Wednesday. More than 1,000 officers were deployed across Germany, including special forces.

There were dozens of searches and several arrests. This was announced by the public prosecutor's offices in Düsseldorf, Koblenz, Saarbrücken and Munich and the state criminal investigation offices in Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland on Wednesday morning.

NRW and Rhineland-Palatinate as a focus

According to initial information, the focus of the operation was North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, each with around 500 officers. In North Rhine-Westphalia, 51 houses, apartments, offices and commercial properties were searched. In addition, the officers executed 15 arrest warrants. In the Thuringian state capital of Erfurt, 4 properties were searched and an EU arrest warrant was executed.

According to the public prosecutor's office, there were 50 search warrants in Rhineland-Palatinate and 10 arrest warrants were executed. The emergency services in Rhineland-Palatinate were supported by special units from the federal government and other states, as well as from customs and tax investigators.

According to the information, investigations against 8 people are underway in Bavaria. Since the morning, more than 130 emergency services have searched 10 objects, and EU arrest warrants have been executed against 4 people.

In Saarland, a residential building and business premises of a 47-year-old man were searched in Saarbrücken, as well as a room that the man had rented in Saarlouis. The man wanted with an arrest warrant was arrested in Italy. Another 25-year-old from Saarland who was wanted with an arrest warrant was also arrested in Italy. According to the information, around 90 emergency services were involved in the measures, including special units and the riot police.

money laundering, tax evasion and drug smuggling

The statement said: "The background is a procedure related to Italian organized crime, which is directed against those responsible and members of the 'Ndrangheta association." The suspects are accused of money laundering, gang tax evasion, commercial gang fraud and drug smuggling, among other things.

The procedure will be conducted by a joint investigation team involving Europol and Eurojust, the EU agency for cooperation in criminal matters. In addition to Italy, which is the focus of the campaign, authorities from Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain also took part. According to Italian authorities, a total of 108 arrest warrants were executed.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Michael Ebling (SPD) spoke of an "effective blow" against the mafia. "Today we sent out a very clear signal: There is no place for organized crime in Europe and there is certainly no place for them here in Rhineland-Palatinate either." The law enforcement authorities are vigilant and effective. Machinations of criminal organizations would be pursued resolutely and consistently.

Who is the 'Ndrangheta?

The 'Ndrangheta is one of the most powerful mafia organizations in the world and has long been active internationally beyond Italy's borders. It is native to the Calabria region.

It dominates the international drug trade, but also earns its money from the arms trade, money laundering and corruption. Some experts estimate their turnover at more than 100 billion euros. There are around 160 clans in Calabria with an estimated 6000 members.

The term 'Ndrangheta comes from the Greek and means something like courage or loyalty. The mafia organization is said to have started in the 1860s when a group of Sicilians were banned from the island by the Italian government.

The 'Ndrangheta also has a solid foothold in Germany. Clans of the organization were responsible, for example, for the mafia murders in Duisburg, in which six people were shot in front of a pizzeria in 2007.