Anti-mafia operation in Germany and Italy seizes €50m in assets

  • Anti-mafia operation in Germany and Italy seizes €50m in assets

Anti-mafia operation in Germany and Italy seizes €50m in assets

Police in Germany and Italy have arrested 169 people and seized nearly $US60 million in assets as part of an anti-mafia operation targeting a cross-border extortion racket, according to Italian news agency ANSA. Italy's paramilitary Carabinieri police said the arrests had dismantled a major clan of the feared 'Ndrangheta crime group. And they said that Italian restaurants in Germany, meanwhile, were forced to import Italian wine, olive oil and other goods from a clan-controlled Italian restaurant association.

Assets worth €50m (£44.06m; $59.79m) were seized in the operation targeting the 'Ndrangheta organised crime group.

The raid targeted the Farao-Marincola clan, allegedly operating in Calabria, but also in the Lazio region surrounding Rome, and in the northern Emilia, Veneto and Lombardy regions.

"They controlled all the economic activity in entire towns", Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told a press conference.

Italian authorities carried out Tuesday's operation in coordination with police and prosecutors in Germany, where at least 13 of the suspects were arrested near Stuttgart on charges of extortion.

In Germany, the federal criminal police office said 11 people were arrested in western Germany, accused of blackmail and money-laundering.

They had also infiltrated funeral homes, laundrettes, plastic recycling plants and shipyards, with a dozen local elected officials including mayors implicated in fraudulent public tenders.

The aim was "to limit the use of violence as much as possible and avoid the internal struggles that are bad for business", Italian police said in a statement.

The 'Ndrangheta network is based in southern Italy but has expanded its reach into the rest of Europe, the BBC's James Reynolds reports from Rome.