Around 90 people suspected of belonging to the notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia were rounded up on Wednesday in raids across several European and Latin American countries, Italian police said.
The suspects are thought to be key members of the powerful organised crime syndicate based in southern Italy. They are accused of committing “serious crimes” including activities linked to international drug trafficking, Italian police said in a statement.
The vast anti-mafia operation was carried out by Italy's anti-mafia and anti-terrorism force in collaboration with German, Belgian and Dutch authorities.
The 'Ndrangheta — which derives its meaning from the Greek word for “heroism” -- is made up of numerous village and family-based clans in Calabria, the rural, mountainous and under-developed “toe” of Italy's boot.
Despite intense police attention and frequent arrests, the organisation has continued to extend its reach.
It has surpassed Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Naples-based Camorra in influence thanks to its control of the cocaine trade, and is the sole mafia organisation to operate on all continents, according to anti-mafia prosecutors.
Wednesday's operation came a day after Italian police arrested new Cosa Nostra boss Settimino Mineo and dozens of other suspects in Sicily in a major swoop.
Jeweller Mineo, 80, was detained along with at least 45 others just before he was due to be appointed official heir to notorious mafia boss Toto Riina who died in prison last year.