A joint Italian and Swiss sting operation against the ‘Ndrangheta has resulted in the arrest of 75 suspects and the seizure of goods worth 169 million euros ($188 million USD).
A further 83 suspects were placed under investigation but were not arrested at this time.
Italy’s financial police said that the large operation involved 700 Italian officers.
The Guardia di Finanza, a militarized police force, forming a part of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, said in a statement, “Seventy-five people were arrested simultaneously in Italy and in Switzerland, accused of serious crimes including mafia association, international drug trafficking, money laundering, and corruption. The operation was the result of years of intense investigative work between Italian and Swiss prosecutors and police.”
A statement released by the Swiss prosecutor’s office said that “police seized weapons and ammunition in raids in the regions of Aargau, Solothurn, Zug, and Ticino”.
Nicola Morra, head of the Italian parliament’s anti-mafia commission said, “If anybody still thinks that the ‘Ndrangheta is a purely Italian problem, this operation shows the opposite.”
Most of them Swiss residents, six key Italian suspects are accused of various crimes including the importation of counterfeit currency from Italy into Switzerland.
A Swiss prosecutor said, “The accused have been living for many years in Switzerland and, presumably, carried out illegal activities along with legal activities, such as investments, loans, or even the management of a restaurant.”
The raids come on the heels of an Interpol warning last month that the ‘Ndrangheta have vast reserves of cash that they will most likely use to help struggling businesses. This will further interweave the ‘Ndrangheta into the legal economy.
Centered in the Calabria region, the ‘Ndrangheta is now Italy’s most powerful criminal organization, overtaking Sicily’s infamous Cosa Nostra.
A major raid in December 2019, led to the arrest of a police colonel, a former MP and 332 other people. Over the past year, Interpol and the Italian authorities have started a new program to crack down on the ‘Ndrangheta.
The ‘Ndrangheta has long been known to expand their territory from their beginning in the poverty-stricken region of Calabria, in the tip of Italy’s boot, to North America, Europe, and Australia.