On Monday, over 200 defendants received a total of over 2,200 years in prison – this is the finale of the mega-trial of bosses and members of the Calabrian mafia, the ‘ndrangheta, and people associated with them. A total of 338 people sat on the stand in the bunker hall in the city of Lamezia Terme in southern Italy. By all accounts, the trial was record-breaking.
The most important trial against the Calabrian mafia ended on Monday after 2 years and 10 months. It targeted the ‘ndrangheta gangs from Vibo Valentia province, led by the Mancuso family from Limbadi. The trial is the result of the detention of over 330 people by the Carabinieri in December 2019.
The largest bunker courtroom in Europe, in the city of Lamezia Terme, was chosen as the venue for this record-breaking trial. Its dimensions are impressive: 103 meters long, 35 meters wide – it can accommodate over 1,000 people. The defendants were accompanied by approximately 600 lawyers.
The defendants were sentenced to over 2,200 years in prison
The record-breaking verdict of the three-woman jury was read: 230 convictions – sentences ranging from 10 months to 30 years in prison, a total of over 2,200 years. This judgment was issued after 36 days of court deliberation.
Former Forza Italia parliamentarian, lawyer Giancarlo Pittelli, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for links to the mafia. The Calabrian mafia bosses: Saverio Razionale, Domenico Bonavota, Paolino Lo Bianco and Antonio Vacatello received a sentence of 30 years.
Prosecutor Vincenzo Capomolla in the city of Catanzaro described the ‘ndrangheta as “entrenched, spreading and alarming.” The Calabrian mafia is considered the most powerful in Italy. It derives enormous profits from the global drug trade.
Calabrian mafia ‘ndrangheta
The ‘Ndrangheta comes from Calabria, a poor region in southern Italy. Its name is believed to come from the ancient Greek words “andros” and “agathos”, meaning a brave or brave man – writes Reuters.
Its activities developed in the 1970s, when it began investing money from ransoms obtained through kidnappings – which was then one of its main activities – in public infrastructure and drug trafficking, especially cocaine.-
The ‘Ndrangheta has kidnapped dozens of famous people, including celebrities such as John Paul Getty III, a scion of an American family of oil tycoons. He was abducted in Rome in 1973 and held for five months in the Calabrian mountains. Getty had his right ear cut off to pressure his family into paying a $3 million ransom. This story was featured in Ridley Scott’s film “All the Money in the World” and in Danny Boyle’s television series “Trust”.
“The absolutely dominant force in the criminal world”
In one report, Italy’s Anti-Mafia Investigative Directorate (DIA) called the ‘ndrangheta “the absolutely dominant force in the criminal world.” Its strength lies in its ability to rely on traditional loyalties to clans and families, while having “maximum flexibility” in exploring new business opportunities, legal and illegal, says the DIA.
In 2008, the Italian research group Eurispes estimated the ‘Nrangheta’s annual turnover at €44 billion, which was about three percent of Italy’s gross domestic product at the time. Some experts have since disputed these estimates, but most agree that the Calabrian mafia is extremely powerful and wealthy, largely due to its role as a major smuggler of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
The DIA says it also makes money from illegal waste trade, racketeering and loan sharking, typically by offering loans to struggling companies and then gradually taking control of them. The ‘Ndrangheta is well established in Canada and Australia, as well as in most Western European countries, with local cells there that usually maintain strong links with their Calabrian homeland.
Italian prosecutors and investigators regularly warn that their European counterparts underestimate the extent to which the Calabrian mafia has infiltrated their countries. They argue that all EU countries should emulate Italy’s strict anti-mafia laws. In May, police across Europe arrested more than 100 people in a crackdown on the group, with suspects accused of drug and weapons trafficking with Latin American groups.
Main photo source: SALVATORE MONTEVERDE/ANSA/PAP/EPA