More than 50 people arrested after raid against Italy’s most powerful mafia group

More than 50 people have been arrested in a raid against one of the world's most powerful mafia groups.

The raid against the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, called Operation Karpanthos, involved more than 400 Carabinieri police officers.

About 38 people were detained, six were placed under house arrest and eight were ordered not to leave their hometowns, police said.

The operation was led by prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, one of Italy's best-known anti-mafia investigators.

Police said the mafia group was linked to large-scale drug trafficking, money laundering and extortion.

The ‘Ndrangheta replaced Sicily's Cosa Nostra as the country's most powerful mafia organization earlier this year and has spread across Europe and the rest of the world.

The group comes from Calabria, the impoverished southern region at the tip of Italy's boot. Beginning in the 1970s, the company expanded significantly as it reinvested ransoms from kidnappings – one of its main activities at the time – into public works projects and the drug trade, particularly cocaine.

The ‘Ndrangheta abducted dozens of high-profile victims, including celebrities such as John Paul Getty III, the scion of the U.S. oil family who was kidnapped in Rome in 1973 and held captive for five months in the mountains of Calabria.

In its latest bi-annual report, Italy's Anti-Mafia Investigation Agency (DIA) describes the ‘Ndrangheta as “the absolutely dominant force in the criminal world”, far beyond its home territory.

Another raid against the mafia group on September 7 this year

(EPA)

The ‘Ndrangheta is known to have an established presence as far away as Canada and Australia, as well as most of Western Europe, with local cells usually maintaining close ties to their Calabrian homeland.

Italian prosecutors and investigators regularly complain that their European counterparts underestimate the extent to which the Calabrian mob has infiltrated their countries and say all EU states should adopt Italy's tough anti-Mafia laws.