The operation yesterday, backed by Europol and Eurojust, saw the arrest of suspects in Italy and Germany alleged to be part of the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate. A total of 65 further suspects have also been identified and their homes searched.

The crime group is suspected of organising the trade in cocaine between Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain using the encrypted EncroChat and Sky ECC communication tools.

Building and hospitality companies were then allegedly used to launder the proceedings in Italy.

In Germany, the investigation has focused on drug trafficking and potential tax avoidance, Europol said.

In total at least several hundreds of thousands of Euro have been seized, as well as weapons, cocaine, two luxury vehicles and jewellery. bank accounts have also been frozen.

A Europol spokesperson said the actions were a follow up to Operation Pollino, an operation co-ordinated jointly by Europol and Eurojust in December 2018, in Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

A Joint Investigation Team was set up which also included German financial and economic specialists.

This investigation is part of a project called ONNET, an EU-financed initiative run by Italy’s Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) to tackle mafia-type organised crime groups active in Europe.

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