SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Five people have been arrested in the Netherlands as part of a Europe-wide campaign against a Calabrian mafia organisation, which has resulted in 84 arrests, the pan-European legal cooperation body Eurojust said on Wednesday.
In total, eight homes were raided in the Netherlands – in Zoetermeer, The Hague, Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Velsen, Rotterdam, Tegelen and Sittard. A sixth Dutch national was picked up in Germany on the request of the Dutch authorities.
Police also seized thousands of euros in cash, four tonnes of cocaine and 140 kilos of ecstasy pills in their Dutch raids, Eurojust, which is based in The Hague, said. Europe-wide, at least €2m in cash was confiscated.
Bert Langerak, head of the tax authority’s FIOD investigation department, told a news conference that today’s raids stem from a probe into potential money laundering at Italian restaurants in Venray and Horst in 2014.
‘Step by step, the authorities involved in Operation Pollino, including investigative judges, worked very intensively together to fit together the pieces, and pooled their knowledge and creativity in order to establish a joint strategy and uncover the actual magnitude and complexity of the criminal activity of the ‘Ndrangheta,’ Eurojust said.
‘This aggressive, mafia-style organised criminal group is one of the most powerful criminal networks in the world, and controls much of Europe’s cocaine trade, combined with systematic money laundering, bribery and violent acts.’
The AD said last year that Dutch police had introduced a special police unit completely dedicated to fighting mafia activities on Dutch soil.
That move was made in response to complaints by the Italian government about Dutch complacency in the face of mafia activity, allowing wanted criminals to live ‘a carefree life’ in the Netherlands, the paper said.
A 2012 police report showed the Ndrangheta could have as many as a hundred active members in this country.
Mafia activity in the Netherlands is mainly concentrated around the drugs and weapons trade but experts warn the criminal organisation is infiltrating sectors of the Dutch economy as well.
In 2015 police investigation showed a mafia family had been active in the Aalsmeer flower auction for years. (DutchNews)