Police Bust International Drug Trafficking Ring Linked to 'Ndrangheta Clan

Published: 08 June 2023

Europol HQEU law enforcement targets drug trafficking networks, allegedly run by Italian 'Ndrangheta clan. (Photo: Europol, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

European law enforcement agencies have arrested 31 individuals in a joint operation across Italy, Belgium, and Germany, targeting an international drug trafficking network allegedly operated by the 'Ndrangheta criminal clan.

In a statement released on Monday, Eurojust and Europol announced that the operation involved more than 840 officers and resulted in the detention of 18 suspects in Italy, eight in Belgium, and five in Germany. The police seized assets worth over 3.8 million euros (US$4.06 million), including cash, drugs, high-value vehicles, and properties.

The operation was a continuation of a previous one conducted by Italian police from 2013 to 2018, but it appears that it had little impact on the illicit activities of the suspects. They reportedly continued exploiting their well-established network to smuggle primarily cocaine from South America to Germany and Italy through various European ports.

"To facilitate drug smuggling, the organized crime group (OCG) established businesses in Germany. The OCG used international companies involved in the automobile and food trading sectors to conceal their drug transports," stated Europol and Eurojust.

The operation was carried out under the EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats), which is the European Union's flagship instrument for combating organized and serious international crime, as stated in the joint statement.