World Bulletin / News Desk
Police detained 24 people in Spain, Italy and Germany on Wednesday as part of a Europe-wide operation against suspected members of Italy's Camorra crime group, a Spanish police spokesman said.
He said the operation aimed to "dismantle an international criminal organisation involved in drug trafficking and money laundering", adding that he was referring to the "Italian Camorra," based in Naples in southern Italy.
Police were searching several premises in Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city, including homes, restaurants and other businesses, as part of the operation.
In Spain most of the arrests took place in Barcelona while in Italy they mostly took place in Naples, the spokesman said.
Spanish police suspect the organisation laundered money earned through drug trafficking through a vast network of firms based in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Portugal.
The Camorra used gambling houses, car rental agencies and gold stores in these countries to launder money, the police spokesman said.
Police regularly detain members of Italian mafias in Spain.
In an interview with El Pais newspaper last month, Italy's mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti said his country's crime syndicates were solidly implanted in Spain.
He said the country was "a strategic place" for them "for geographical reasons, and because they think they can go about their business under less scrutiny."
"It's a strategic location for drug trafficking and offers opportunities for money laundering. They see it as a place to colonise."
Spain's proximity to Morocco, one of the world's largest producers of hashish, as well as its close ties with former colonies in Latin America have made it the main entry point of hashish and cocaine into Europe.
Several Italian mafia clans have transferred their more risky activities such as drug trafficking to Spain, according to Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, the author of "Gomorrah", the best-selling expose on the criminal underworld in Naples.
Camorra bosses refer to Spain's Mediterranean coast as "Costa Nostra", or "Our Coast", alluding to the Sicilian mafia "Cosa Nostra", according to Saviano.Last Mod: 05 Temmuz 2017, 15:03