In one of the most significant mafia proceedings in Italy in recent generations, over 200 defendants were collectively sentenced to over 2,200 years in prison.
Amidst a three-year legal proceeding, defendants suspected of having ties to the ‘Ndrangheta were convicted of offenses, including drug trafficking and extortion.
A former senator from Italy was among those sentenced; however, the verdicts remain subject to appeal.
The ‘Ndrangheta is among the most influential criminal organizations in Europe.
The case exemplified the extensive societal and political sway of the rabble in southern Italy. According to authorities, the convictions of white-collar workers, including politicians, merchants, and local officials, illustrated the profound effect that organized crime has had on Italian institutions.
Notable Individuals and Sentences
A lawyer and former senator for the Forza Italia party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi, Giancarlo Pittelli, was among the most notable individuals to receive sentences. The court sentenced Pittelli to eleven years in prison for his part in a mafia-like organization.
The convictions of additional individuals encompassed high-ranking officials, professionals from diverse sectors, and civil servants—all of whom played a pivotal role in facilitating the ‘Ndrangheta’s infiltration of the legitimate economy and state institutions.
The court acquitted over one hundred of the defendants.
Police secured the justices who were presiding over the case in response to concerns for their personal safety.
‘Ndrangheta’s Global Reach and Operations
One of the world’s most dangerous criminal organisations is the ‘Ndrangheta, which originated in poor Calabria. An estimated eighty percent of the cocaine market in Europe is under its control.
Experts estimate the gang’s yearly revenue to be around $60 billion (£49 billion).
The trial took place in a high-security courthouse converted from a contact centre in Lamezia Terme’s outskirts. It had cages for the accused and room for 600 lawyers and 900 witnesses. Included among the charges were homicide, extortion, narcotic trafficking, loan-seeking, office misuse, and money laundering.
Three years of proceedings revealed the Calabrian syndicate’s involvement in South America and Australia. Ballot rigging and corrupting local officials and public institutions, including the health system, were methods by which its members infiltrated the local economy.
Testimonies and Inner Workings of the ‘Ndrangheta
The judges reviewed thousands of hours of testimony in the largest trial since the 1980s. Former mobsters who testified for the court system described the Mancuso family and its colleagues’ operations. The Mancuso family controls a vast portion of the province of Vibo Valentia.
The Mancuso family, hailing from the municipality of Limbadi, ranks among the most formidable of the ‘Ndrangheta’s 150 factions.
Professor of criminology at the University of Exeter Anna Sergi remarked, “This trial validates the convictions of traditional mafiosi who were convicted of offenses more commonly associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking or extortion.”
She added that it’s important to recognise how demographic groupings like white-collar professionals provide a more complete picture. This understanding extends to the province as a whole and the interrelationships among different mafia factions.
Unveiling ‘Ndrangheta’s Operations and Response
Law enforcement detained the majority of offenders in December 2019 following a 2016 investigation in eleven Italian regions. In Vibo Valentia, under the Mancuso clan of the ‘Ndragheta, 2,500 officers targeted suspects.
Over fifty former mafia members, including Emanuele Mancuso, the nephew of Luigi Mancuso, consented to cooperate with the trial.
Their testimony illuminated the inner workings of one of the most formidable mobs in Italy. Members of the ‘Ndrangheta allegedly concealed firearms in cemetery chapels and diverted public water supplies for marijuana cultivation. Additionally, the trial reported that they utilized ambulances to transport drugs.
Dreadful repercussions met opponents of the organized crime syndicate. There were goat heads and dead pups left in front of homes, burnt cars, and vandalised storefront windows.
The initial sequence of statements illustrates the formidable nature of countering the ‘Ndrangheta on account of its political, economic, and financial ties, according to writer and expert on organized crime Antonio Nicaso.