‘Ndrangheta: More than 200 People Convicted in Italian Mafia Trial

An Italy tribunal has given a severe blow to the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate, handing down convictions to 207 individuals and sentencing them to a collective 2,100 years in prison. The trial, one of Italy’s largest and most complex, on charges related to the defendants’ affiliation with the ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful drug-trafficking group that has grown in influence both in Italy and internationally.

'Ndrangheta: More than 200 People Convicted in Italian Mafia Trial

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The trial happened in a constructed high-security bunker in the southern Calabria region, where the ‘Ndrangheta originated. The ‘Ndrangheta has risen to prominence as the Sicilian Mafia’s influence waned.

Known as one of the world’s most potent crime syndicates, the ‘Ndrangheta has established a monopoly on cocaine importation into Europe, a fact underlined by anti-mafia prosecutors leading the investigation in southern Italy.

The organization’s reach extends globally, with bases in North and South America, active operations in Africa, and arrests of ‘Ndrangheta figures in Europe, Brazil, and Lebanon.

The charges in this landmark trial stemmed from an investigation into 12 clans linked to Luigi Mancuso, a convicted ‘Ndrangheta boss who served 19 years in an Italian prison.

The central figure, Mancuso, was accused of leading one of the ‘Ndrangheta’s most powerful crime families based in the town of Vibo Valentia.

The defendants faced a range of charges, including drug and arms trafficking, extortion, and association with the ‘Ndrangheta, as per Italy’s penal code for members of organized crime groups.

Vincenzo Capomolla deputy chief prosecutor of Catanzaro, asserted that the convictions validated the prosecution’s case, confirming the ‘Ndrangheta’s influence in Vibo Valentia.

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He highlighted the depth of the criminal organization’s infiltration into the social and economic fabric, describing it as “so deep-rooted and so widespread” that no aspect of life remained untouched by the syndicate’s force.

While the prosecution celebrated its success, Giuseppe Di Renzo, defense attorney for several defendants, criticized the sheer number of defendants, claiming it reflected a lack of cohesion in the prosecutors’ case.

More than a third of the original defendants were fully acquitted, and some were found not guilty of specific charges. Di Renzo argued that the nature of the charges demonstrated a lack of a cohesive thread in the case.

Nicola Gratteri, Catanzaro’s former chief prosecutor who launched the investigation, defended the need to cast wide nets in mafia trials.

He explained that the nature of the charges was a necessity due to the ways in which criminal syndicates operate, infiltrating various sectors of society.

This trial though not the largest in Italy’s history involving alleged mobsters, stands out for its focus on acts of collusion among mobsters, local politicians, public officials, businessmen, and members of secret lodges.

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In 1986, a trial involving 475 alleged members of the Sicilian Mafia took place in Palermo, resulting in over 300 convictions and 19 life sentences.

The ‘Ndrangheta trial aimed to showcase the syndicate’s roots in Calabria and its connections across various sectors.

Awash in cocaine trafficking revenues, the ‘Ndrangheta has engaged in a buying spree, acquiring hotels, restaurants, pharmacies, car dealerships, and other businesses throughout Italy.

Criminal investigations have revealed the syndicate’s expansion into Rome and the country’s north. The ‘Ndrangheta’s gains were not only laundered through legitimate businesses but also used to establish a stronghold in the tourism and hospitality sectors across Europe.

Traditionally immune to turncoats due to its reliance on blood ties, the ‘Ndrangheta witnessed a shift in dynamics during this trial. Several informants, including a relative of Luigi Mancuso, cooperated with authorities.

This shift indicates a growing trend of individuals within the organization turning state’s evidence, weakening the syndicate’s historical structure.

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