Dozens of people have been arrested in a new police raid against the 'Ndrangheta mafia that has revealed how its multiple illegal activities have spread as far as Austria and Germany, Italian authorities said on Tuesday.
Suspects, including politicians from the 'Ndrangheta home region of Calabria, face charges including mafia association, murder, extortion, fraud, rigging of public contracts, bribery and vote buying, police said in a statement.
Catanzaro Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, one of Italy's best-known anti-Mafia investigators, said in a press conference that regional politicians and public administrators had been "subjugated" by mobsters during 2014-2020.
Police said 22 people have been jailed, 12 put under house arrest, four suspended from office and three given orders not to leave their home town, and a total of 123 people are under investigation, including a former governor of Calabria.
Prosecutors from the German town of Stuttgart and the German federal police cooperated with the investigation, they added.
The alleged 'Ndrangheta network ran illegal trades from the south to the north of Italy in real estate, catering, fruit and vegetable and livestock trading, security services and video-poker, Italian police said.
Mobsters also did business with Austrian fruit and vegetable traders and used German hackers to carry out fraudulent banking and financial transactions on clandestine trading platforms, according to the police.
Tuesday's sting follows two other major anti-'Ndrangheta raids in May, which led to more than 100 arrests across Europe and to the discovery of a drug smuggling ring that relied on shadow networks of Chinese money brokers.
The 'Ndrangheta, which has its roots in the southern Italian region of Calabria, has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra as Italy's most powerful mafia group, and is considered one of the largest criminal networks in the world.