German police arrest 11 Italian Mafia suspects
After a year-long investigation, police in southern Germany have arrested 11 suspected members of the Italian Mafia who they suspect of trafficking cocaine, authorities announced on Tuesday. The Upper Bavaria police force said in a statement that they had identified a total of 18 suspects, most of them Italian citizens between 22- and 54-years-old, 11 of whom are now in custody.
The suspects are believed to belong to the powerful 'Ndrangheta Mafia clan.
German authorities said they were also working with police in Brescia, northern Italy, to target suspects there as part of a probe launched in early 2009.
Investigators believe that several kilogrammes of cocaine were regularly brought to Germany from Italy via courier trips and then distributed to bulk buyers, who they said were primarily pub owners in Munich and Upper Bavaria. From there, the drug was sold to consumers.
As part of the operation, some 340 officers raided 75 sites in the region to seek evidence and carry out the arrest warrants.
These latest arrests come a month after police in Spain detained a string of Italian Mafia figures for drug running, including a key member of Sicily's Cosa Nostra.
A week ago, one of the leaders of the 'Ndrangheta was arrested in Italy after police used Facebook to track him down. Pasquale Manfredi, one of Italy's 100 most wanted fugitives, communicated with his accomplices via the social networking site under the name "Scarface".
The 'Ndrangheta is Italy's strongest Mafia. In 2007, its members murdered six men in Germany's western city of Duisburg.
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