On Wednesday, the largest trial against the “ndrangheta criminal group” in southern Italy opened. The criminal group is arguably the richest criminal organization in the world, and it quietly accumulated Italian power after the Sicilian Mafia lost its influence.
On the vast ground of an industrial park in Calabria, the “toe” of the Italian peninsula, more than 300 defendants were in court.
The prosecutor hopes that this trial will be a decisive blow to “ndrangheta”. “Ndrangheta” is a mob organization headquartered in Calabria. The organization uses tens of billions of dollars in cocaine revenue to expand its criminal activities across Europe and across multiple continents.
The anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told reporters when he arrived at reporters on Wednesday that the trial was a turning point, showing that “ndrangheta” is now being called for and justified for his crimes.
He said: “Decades ago, people would tremble when talking about Cosa Nostra or using the word’ndrangheta. They would only whisper in a hidden room by the fireplace,” he said. “Today we started to scream in the open sun.
He said: “In the past two years, we have seen a surge in complaints from businessmen, bullied citizens, victims of loan sharks, and people who have suffered from’ndrangheta’ over the years.”
Investigators said that’ndrangheta has established bases in many regions in Western Europe, Northern and Central Europe, Australia, North and South America, and is also active in Africa.
The trial stemmed from an investigation of 12 clans connected to the convicted “ndrangheta boss”. That person is Luigi Mancuso, who served in an Italian prison cell for 19 years because he led investigators who claimed to be one of the most powerful criminal families in ndrangheta in the town of Vibo Valentia .
The prosecution has expressed its desire to meet with more than 900 witnesses, and the trial is expected to last at least a year.
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The allegations under consideration by the court include drug and arms trafficking, extortion and mafia associations, which are terms used in Italian criminal law for members of organized criminal groups. Others were accused of conspiring with “ndrangheta” but did not actually become members.
Approximately 325 defendants were ordered to stand trial in Lamezia Terme, while approximately 90 defendants in the investigation opted for a fast trial. The case began in Calabria later this month. Another result of the same investigation was that trials involving five murders began in other parts of Calabria in February.
The Lamezia Terme bunker is so large, many video screens have been fixed on the ceiling, so participants can better watch the meeting minutes. There are rows of tables for about 600 lawyers to work, and the distance between the microphone and the chair must be safe to comply with COVID-19 health regulations.
Although the number is impressive, this week’s trial is not the largest trial against a mob in Italy. In 1986, in a similar bunker in Palermo, 475 members of the Sicilian Mafia Cosa Nostra were tried. The trial resulted in more than 300 convictions and 19 life sentences, which helped to reveal the many cruel methods and murder tactics of the island’s top mob leaders, including the sensational killings in the years of power struggles that made the Palermo region bleed.
In contrast, this trial against’ndrangheta’ is largely aimed at convicting suspected criminals and connivance among local politicians, public officials, businessmen and members of secret hotels to show that the group Roots in the country.
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For decades,’ndrangheta’ is almost entirely based on blood relationship and is almost immune to the influence of immune coating. But their team started to become more and more important. In the Lamezia Terme trial, there was evidence that the state was a relative of Mancuso. Dozens of informants in the case are from’ndrangheta, but others are from the previous ranks of Cosa Nostra in Sicily and can be required to testify.
Criminal investigations revealed that “cocaine” flooded the revenue from cocaine trafficking, devouring hotels, restaurants, pharmacies, car dealerships and other businesses across Italy, especially in Rome and the affluent north.
Investigators said that the buying frenzy of the past few years has spread widely in Europe because “ndrangheta” tried to launder money and make “clean” money by operating legal businesses (including tourism and hospitality).