European police and judicial authorities have arrested 132 members of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia after a coordinated action day executed by 10 countries, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, and France.

Europol and Eurojust supported this international operation against the Italian poly-criminal syndicate, which is responsible for Europe’s cocaine trade, systematic money laundering, bribery, and violence. This is the largest-ever hit involving the Italian organized crime syndicate to date.

The criminal network under investigation was led by powerful ‘Ndrangheta families based mainly in the town of San Luca, which is in the Italian province of Reggio Calabria. Members of the network were responsible for drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, illegal firearms possession, money laundering, fraudulent asset registration, tax fraud, tax evasion, and aiding and abetting fugitives.

The Italian criminal network was mainly devoted to international drug trafficking from South America to Europe, as well as Australia, and worked with the Colombian organized crime group ‘Gulf Clan’ and an Albanian-speaking crime group operating in Ecuador and multiple European countries.

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The ‘Ndrangheta clans were also involved in international firearms trafficking from Pakistan to South America, providing weapons to the notorious criminal group PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital) in exchange for cocaine shipments. The group invested its profits in real estate, restaurants, hotels, car wash companies, supermarkets, and other commercial activities, relying on facilitators using the hawala system to transfer funds.

Eurojust supported the authorities by establishing and funding two joint investigation teams, hosting ten coordination meetings, and setting up a coordination center. Europol’s Analysis Project on Italian Organised Crime supported the investigation as a priority case, providing intelligence packages and cross-match reports to the national investigative units involved. Europol also deployed specialists with mobile offices on the spot in all three countries.

The investigation and the action day were supported by the @ON Network funded by the EU (Project ISF4@ON) and led by the Italian Antimafia Investigation Directorate (DIA). Participating authorities were from Italy, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, France, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Brazil, and Panama. This case falls under the EMPACT Operational Action 2.3 on ‘Ndrangheta and the Sicilian mafia, the first EMPACT.