European police carried out raids in multiple European countries on early Wednesday, as part of a probe into the Calabrian Mafia, in the latest crackdown targeting the sprawling criminal network.
“This morning, a large-scale European operation took place in several countries. It concerns a case opened by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, in collaboration with the Limburg Prosecutor’s Office, the Federal Judicial Police, Eurojust, Europol and various countries, in particular Italy,” the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
Italian authorities arrested 108 people in Italy as part of a four-pronged investigation into charges of “mafia-type association,” the Italian Carabinieri said in a statement Wednesday.
The arrests were carried out by the Carabinieri Ros and the Provincial Command of Reggio Calabria in Italy in conjunction with raids carried out in Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal, Romania and Spain, the Carabinieri statement said.
In a joint release Wednesday, public prosecutors from German cities said, “forces from Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland” have been involved in the “large-scale operation,” which took place across Europe on Wednesday.
In Belgium, more than 20 raids were carried out as part of the operation, the statement from the federal prosecutor said.
The ‘Ndrangheta, which is based in the southern Italian region of Calabria, is considered to be the most powerful mafia group in the country.
Italian authorities targeted the Calabrian clan in a historic trial in January 2021, when more than 320 suspected mobsters and their associates faced an array of charges, including extortion, drug trafficking and theft, Reuters reported. An Italian judge later found 70 defendants guilty, in what became one of Italy’s largest-ever mafia trials, according to Reuters.
In February, Italian police also arrested a mobster associated with the ‘Ndrangheta, who had been on the run in Saint-Etienne, France, where he was working under the alias Paolo Dimitrio as a pizzaiolo – or pizza chef – at the Caffe Rossini Italian restaurant.
Edgardo Greco, 63, was convicted in absentia in 1991 for the double homicide of brothers Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, who he is alleged to have killed with iron bars before dissolving their bodies in acid, according to court documents. He had evaded Italian law enforcement officials since his conviction.
Just weeks before Greco’s arrest, authorities in Palermo stunned many around the world when they apprehended Matteo Messina Denaro, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra superboss who had been on the run for 30 years.
Messina Denaro had been a fugitive since 1993 and was considered by Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, to be one of the most wanted men in Europe.