Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta Trial: Over 200 Defendants Sentenced to 2,200 Years for Mafia Links
In one of Italy’s most significant mafia trials in recent history, more than 200 defendants have been handed down a total of over 2,200 years in prison. The three-year trial focused on individuals with alleged ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, with crimes ranging from extortion to drug trafficking. Among those sentenced was a former Italian senator, though the verdicts are subject to appeal.
The ‘Ndrangheta, known as one of Europe’s most influential criminal organizations, has long had a pervasive influence over the politics and society of southern Italy. This trial shed light on the extent of their reach, with convictions including white collar workers, local officials, businessmen, and politicians. Notably, Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and former senator for Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, received an 11-year sentence for collusion with a mafia-type organization.
The trial, held in a converted call center, revealed the ‘Ndrangheta’s infiltration of the legitimate economy and state institutions. Charges ranged from murder and extortion to drug trafficking, loan sharking, abuse of office, and money laundering. Over the course of three years, the trial exposed the syndicate’s global operations, extending as far as South America and Australia. Testimonies from former mobsters turned collaborators provided insight into the inner workings of the Mancuso family and their associates, who wield extensive control over the province of Vibo Valentia.
More than 50 former mafia members cooperated with the trial, offering testimony that exposed the ‘Ndrangheta’s tactics, including concealing weapons in cemetery chapels, using ambulances for drug transportation, and diverting public water supplies to grow marijuana. The trial, the largest of its kind since the 1980s, saw judges examine thousands of hours of testimony, providing a comprehensive view of the connections between various mafia clans and their impact on the entire province.
The extensive investigation, spanning at least 11 Italian regions, led to the arrests of the majority of the defendants in December 2019. The crackdown targeted suspects in Vibo Valentia, an area primarily controlled by the ‘Ndragheta’s Mancuso clan. The convictions of both classic mafiosi and white collar workers illustrate the far-reaching impact of organized crime on Italian institutions and society.
This trial marks a significant blow to the ‘Ndrangheta, exposing their criminal activities and dismantling their influence over the region. The judges presiding over the case were placed under police protection due to fears for their safety, emphasizing the gravity of this landmark trial and its implications for the fight against organized crime in Italy.