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Suspected Mafia boss one of 35 held in major swoop

Police have arrested dozens of |suspected gangsters as part of a global anti-Mafia operation in Italy and Germany.

The cross-border operation focused on the structure of the ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate, which specialises in illegal drug trafficking.

Some 35 arrests were made yesterday and suspects are also being sought in Canada and Australia.

Italian justice minister Angelino Alfano hailed the crackdown operation against people suspected of robbery, murder, drug trafficking, protection rackets, money laundering and possession of arms and explosives, as “an extraordinary success”.

The Calabria-based Mafia syndicate is reckoned to be the most powerful in Italy because of its money laundering activities and tight grip on the cocaine trade throughout Europe.

Alleged ’Ndrangheta boss Francesco Maisano (46) was brought out of a hidden bunker in a wall at his Calabrian home after several hours negotiating with the police.

The suspects arrested outside Italy were understood to be recycling illicit funds from Italian businesses.

The ’Ndrangheta is just one of the many Mafia organisations based in

Italy. They date back to pre-unification days when each region had its own crime organisation.

The Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra’s influence has weakened in recent years, but the power and reach of the ’Ndrangheta has been extended by aggressive and secretive worldwide action.

Yesterday’s arrests, which follow a large-scale police operation in July that resulted in more than 300 people being sent to prison, is a major blow to the ’Ndrangheta syndicate in the south of Italy.

Calabria police spokesman Carlo Pieroni said: “We have hit at the central structure of the ’Ndrangheta. The ’Ndrangheta is on the brink, or at least it will be forced to reorganise.”

Giuseppe Pignatone, the prosecutor of Reggio Calabria, said: “The foreign groups always maintain contact with the mother house, the Reggio Calabria area, where they periodically come to take their orders, directives, long-term strategies, as well as give an account of what's going on.

“The fulcrum remains Calabria.”

It is understood police were using information gathered from wiretapped comments allegedly made by mafia boss Giuseppe ‘The Master’ Commisso.

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