Italy’s Camorra crime syndicate received an unexpected wake-up call, starting at 4 a.m. that was personally delivered by police in Catalonia on Wednesday. According to a spokesman for Spain's Guardia Civil police, officers detained 13 people accused of money laundering and of drug trafficking as part of a European-wide effort to dismember an international crime ring. Simultaneous to the arrests in Catalonia (in northeast Spain), raids were also happening in Germany and in Italy, while the police operation continued Wednesday morning in Barcelona, as well.

Authorities arrest accused mafia members in anti-crime sweep

More than 300 law enforcement officers, including Spain’s civil guard, conducted 35 raids, searching homes and businesses, including restaurants, in Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona.

In sum, more than 30 people accused of being members of the Mafia were arrested during the raids. Eurojust, the European Union’s anti-crime coordination agency, said the Italian mafia based in Naples (southern Italy) is alleged to smuggle hashish and cocaine in large quantities from Spain to Italy.

For laundering money, the Camorra reportedly used gold stores, car rental agencies, and gambling establishments as fronts, according to the spokesman for Spanish police.

Drugs seized along with financial assets from mafia money laundering activities

From suspects in Spain, Italy, Portugal, German, and Britain, police confiscated roughly 450 kilograms of hashish and marijuana, as well as 520 kilograms of cocaine. According to Eurojust, police also seized assets totaling £4.90 million (around $6 million).

In Germany, three suspects were arrested. In Italy, 18 suspects were taken into custody. The investigation, however, is ongoing and police anticipate additional making arrests soon.

Premise for raids based on prior police work, anti-drug seizure

Precipitating yesterday’s raid and arrests was a drug seizure operation conducted two years ago and which was spearheaded by Naples’ Anti-Mafia Prosecution Office.

Suspected Camorra mafia members were being scrutinized by police following the drugs having been seized from the Naples-based criminal syndicate.

Italian mafia prosecutor, Franco Roberti, stated that Italy’s criminal enterprises have had “firm links” in Spain. It has been because the accused mafia members perceived that they could conduct their “business” under less scrutiny that Spain was selected as their “strategic” location.

Roberti acknowledged that it is strategic for trafficking drugs; it provides opportunities to launder money. “They” see it as a location to “colonize.” Many Italian mafia factions are alleged to have moved their activities to Spain for conducting their “riskier” activities – such as drug trafficking.

Geographic location selection purpose-filled decision for mafia’s criminal enterprise

Because of its proximity to Morocco, one of the world’s most prolific producers of hashish, along with close-knit ties with former Latin American colonies, Spain is the prime entry point for trafficking drugs to Europe. The Italian journalist-author of “Gomorrah,” a best-seller expose about the underworld of the criminal enterprise in Naples, Roberto Saviano said Camorra mob bosses allude to the Sicilian mafia – in Mediterranean coast of Spain – as “Costa Nostra” or “Our Coast,”