LAMEZIA TERME, Italy – In a specially constructed high-security courtroom in Calabria, Italy, over 200 individuals were found guilty of crimes such as criminal association, extortion, and bribery, concluding what has been deemed the largest mafia trial in the country in 30 years.
The three-year “maxi trial” targeted members of the notorious ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate, who exert significant control over the European cocaine trade, among other criminal activities. While more than 100 individuals were acquitted, the convictions represent a major blow to the powerful organized crime group.
The arrests of the defendants in December 2019 were the result of an extensive investigation that spanned 11 Italian regions and involved around 2,500 officers. The operation targeted suspects affiliated with the ‘Ndrangheta’s Mancuso clan in Vibo Valentia, a region long dominated by the crime syndicate.
The trial was led by anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who described it as the most significant operation against crime syndicates since the 1986-92 Palermo maxi trials. The evidence presented during the trial highlighted the ruthless tactics employed by the ‘Ndrangheta, including violent attacks, extortion, weapon stockpiling, and corruption in public contracts.
Of particular note was the inclusion of non-mafia individuals among the defendants, including police officials, mayors, public servants, and businesspeople. The extensive reach and influence of the ‘Ndrangheta were evident in the involvement of individuals from various sectors of society.
Following the sentencing, Gratteri emphasized the significance of the convictions, stating, “It is a very significant sentence, and we are very satisfied. We have finally demonstrated that there was a network of white-collar workers, entrepreneurs, and politicians doing business with the Calabrian clans.”
The ‘Ndrangheta’s deep-rooted control over the local economy and its use of violent tactics to silence opposition were revealed during the trial. The crime syndicate’s influence extended to various aspects of life and the economic and social fabric of the region.
Despite the enduring power of the ‘Ndrangheta, the convictions delivered in the high-profile trial signal a significant legal and law enforcement victory in the ongoing battle against organized crime in Italy. It also serves as a reminder of the extensive reach and influence of criminal organizations and the tireless efforts of law enforcement and judiciary to combat their activities.