Rome - Italian and German police have rounded up more than 100 suspects in a vast anti-mafia operation in the two countries, cracking open a crime empire that grew rich on bread, wine and funeral services.
Prosecutors in southern Italy said the 'ndrangheta's Farao-Marincola clan had its hand in just about every commercial enterprise in the Calabrian town of Ciro and nearby areas, and that its grip extended throughout Italy and into Germany to launder its profits.
Authorities targeted the 'Ndrangheta, one of the most powerful organised crime groups in the southwestern Italian region of Calabria.
According to Eurojust, the January 9 operation was the culmination of lengthy and complex investigations, initiated and conducted in Italy by the Reparto Operativo Speciale (ROS) under the leadership of the Procura della Repubblica - Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia (DDA) of Catanzaro.More news: European Champions decine? Real Madrid decline due to transfer activity?
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Eleven of the suspects, aged 36 to 61, were detained in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hessen and North Rhine-Westphalia on accusations of blackmailing and money laundering, German police said.
Investigators said that the clan had taken over the local economy around the Calabrian town of Cirò Marina before branching out into Germany where Calabrian restaurateurs were ordered to buy wine and pizza dough from the mafia. Police said more arrests were possible. Among those arrested is the president of Crotone province, Nicodemo Parrilla, in the Calabria region of Italy, BBC News reports.
Numerous 160 arrest warrants - issued for mafia association, attempted murder, money laundering, extortion and illegal weapons - targeted suspects already serving time for other crimes. "We will not allow criminal organisations like the 'ndrangheta to use Germany... and do their criminal business here".