Italian police have arrested 61 more suspects linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, Italy’s most powerful mafia group. The arrests came as part of a major crackdown on the group involving over 500 police officers and targeting 167 people across seven regions in the country. The suspects are accused of a range of crimes, including fraud, drug trafficking, infiltrating government, and extorting local farmers. Dozens of those arrested were already in prison.
This latest operation is part of a broader crackdown on the ‘Ndrangheta, which has become the most powerful mafia group in Italy and operates in over 40 countries worldwide. In a separate operation last week, more than 100 people were arrested across Europe in what police described as the biggest operation against the ‘Ndrangheta ever carried out. Ten countries were involved, and assets worth €25m were seized.
The recent operations have also shed new light on the ‘Ndrangheta’s operations during the Covid pandemic. The group’s alleged boss, Pasquale Bonavota, was arrested in a cathedral in Genoa last month. The Mancuso family, one of the 150 families forming the ‘Ndrangheta’s criminal network, has been particularly targeted by the authorities. Many of its members, along with corrupt officials, have been imprisoned or are yet to face trial.
Italian and Belgian investigators have linked the ‘Ndrangheta to the smuggling of close to 25,000kg of cocaine between October 2019 and January 2022. The group is also accused of funneling more than €22m from Calabria to Belgium, the Netherlands, and South America.
The ‘Ndrangheta has surpassed Cosa Nostra as the most powerful mafia group in Italy. It is believed to control the majority of Europe’s cocaine trade and has an estimated annual turnover of €44bn, making it one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.