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"Today, supported by a coordination center at Eurojust, judicial and law enforcement authorities from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium are now executing arrests and seizures against a 'Ndrangheta criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence", Wednesday's statement read.

Joint investigative teams involving police in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are targeting members of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Agency and Italy's Polizia di Stato confirmed after several media outlets had reported the story.

But Italy's top Mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero De Raho, also sounded a note of caution, saying the raids only scratched the surface of the powerful 'ndrangheta, whose tentacles and illicit activities, including huge cocaine trafficking operations, were spread all over the world.

Authorities said they conducted raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said they had also probed ice cream parlours, adding that together with restaurants "the suspicion is that the mafia organisation is laundering money through these establishments and they are used as a cover for their criminal organisations".

"Today, we send a clear message to organised crime groups across Europe".

The operation was co-ordinated by Eurojust, the European agency that fights cross-border organised crime.

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"They are not the only ones able to operate across borders - so are Europe's judiciary and law enforcement communities."

Ndrangheta is a mafia organisation from the south of Italy which has extended its influence to many other countries.

At least 90 suspected Sicilian mafia members are under arrest on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.

In Germany, the raids - which are part of Operation Pollino - are focused on the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the mafia has traditionally had a large presence.

The vast anti-mafia operation was carried out by Italy's anti-mafia and anti-terrorism force in collaboration with German, Belgian and Dutch authorities, it said.

Among the 'ndrangheta clans hardest hit by Wednesday's raids was the Pelle-Vottari crime family, investigators said. There should be over 1,000 arrests and billions of euros should be seized. They are accused of committing "serious crimes" including activities linked to worldwide drug trafficking, Italian police said in a statement.


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