Italian mafia group raids 'may be largest ever'

STORY: Authorities say that over a hundred people suspected to be linked to the Italian mafia have been arrested in raids across Europe.

Prosecutors say it might be the biggest operation ever targeting Italy's 'Ndrangheta (GHEH-TA) group, one of the largest organized crime syndicates in the world, having surpassed the Sicilian Cosa Nostra -- the latter group whose own infamy was boosted by Hollywood movies like the Godfather.

Police appear to have seized large amounts of cash, drugs, luxury cars, and weapons.

This car wash in Munich, Germany is said to have a money laundering hotspot.

Ludwig (VIG) Waldinger is with the Bavarian state police, and told Reuters a bit of how this three-year investigation unfolded.

"Criminals nowadays no longer communicate with normal mobile phones, especially when it’s about organising acts of crime. For many years, they have been using so called crypto mobile phones. Some of the services have since been shut down and that is where we were successful. We actually located one of those crypto mobile phones from one of the main suspects in Munich which was a big step forward in the investigation of Italian authorities."

"The raids and the arrests here in Bavaria were obviously carried out with special police forces. We are after all talking about 'Ndrangheta, a Mafia organization where you always have to count on firearms being used. So the attack was pretty sudden and the raid quite elegant.”

"The profits from international cocaine trade, arms trade and arms smuggling are huge. It’s very dirty money and if you want to use it, you somehow have to return it to the circulation of money. This is done with the help of such small businesses but also with restaurants or comparable locations. This here is such a place where money was laundered.”

Authorities say 'Ndrangheta is believed to have smuggled close to 25 tonnes of cocaine between October 2019 and January of 2022.

The raids were dubbed "Operation Eureka," and was part of an investigation that also spanned Brazil and Panama, according to Europol.