European police have arrested eleven people in a major international operation against suspected mafia groups and tax evasion.
Officers in Germany, Italy and Bulgaria conducted simultaneous searches at 46 flats and businesses on Wednesday.
The raids were carried out against suspects linked to the southern Italian Mafia organisation ‘Ndrangheta.
The detained individuals are accused of forming a criminal organisation and tax fraud worth €13 million, according to German authorities.
The group is alleged to have used a so-called “VAT carousel” by re-selling sell luxury cars several times in different European countries.
Four people were arrested in the southern German state of Bavaria, another six in Italy and one in Bulgaria. Authorities also seized thirteen expensive vehicles as part of the raids.
Police in Bavaria said that police and tax investigators in Augsburg had been investigating the case for more than a year, under the leadership of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
“This was the first case registered by the EPPO … and I am very pleased that the investigation is already showing concrete results,” European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi said in a statement.
The ‘Ndrangheta group, based in Calabria, is considered one of the largest and most powerful crime syndicates in Europe.