When the Italians call their group prosecutions of Mobsters ‘Maxi Trials’, they are not exaggerating.
A three-year trial, with Hundreds of defendants and lawyers, thousands of pieces of evidence, in a specially-built secure courtroom, tackling some of the most dangerous organized crime figures in the country, belonging to a poweful Calabrese group.
In the end, they convicted and sentenced more than 200 people of crimes including criminal association, extortion and bribery, in Italy’s largest mafia trial in three decades.
The Guardian reported:
“The verdicts mark the end of a three-year “maxi trial” held in a high-security courtroom in the southern Calabria region built specifically to hold up to 350 defendants, accommodate 400 lawyers and hear from the 900 witnesses providing testimony against an extensive network of members belonging to the notorious ’Ndrangheta.”
And it was no ‘kangaroo court’ either, as more than 100 individuals were acquitted by the court in Lamezia Terme.
The trial sentencing represents a significant blows to date against the crime syndicate that controls on the European cocaine trade.
“Almost all of the defendants were arrested in December 2019 after a lengthy investigation that began in 2016 and covered at least 11 Italian regions. About 2,500 officers participated in raids focused on suspects in Vibo Valentia, Calabria, the heart of an area controlled mainly by the ’Ndrangheta’s Mancuso clan. An elite carabinieri unit known as the Cacciatori, literally “the hunters”, arrested several suspects hiding in bunkers located behind sliding staircases, hidden trapdoors and maintenance-hole covers.”
For the first time, the trial included non-mafia individuals among the defendants – a police chief, local councilors and businessmen, and a former Italian MP.
The legenday anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri led the investigation. For the trial, his team had collected no less 24,000 wiretaps and intercepted conversations to back up their charges.
Violent attacks, extortion, corruption in public contracts, weapon stockpiling, manipulation of elections and bribery were exposed at the trial.
“On Monday, Gratteri, who was nominated Naples’s chief prosecutor this year, said: ‘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 most important defendant, undisputed boss Luigi “The Supreme” Mancuso, will face a separate trial, but his nephew Emanuele Mancuso, flipped to the prosecution, after accepting police protection.
“At one time derided by the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Campanian Camorra mafias, the ’Ndrangheta is by far the most powerful criminal group in Italy and one of the richest in the world. A study by the Demoskopita Research Institute in 2013 estimated it was more financially powerful than Deutsche Bank and McDonald’s combined, with an annual turnover of €53bn (£44bn).”
The New York Times reported:
“The reading of the sentences of the over 330 defendants lasted more than an hour, and covered crimes ranging from extortion to money laundering, corruption, usury, murder and involvement in a criminal organization.
[…] The ‘Ndrangheta, once considered just a group of rural gangs based in Calabria, has grown to control much of Europe’s cocaine trade and has emerged as one of Europe’s most feared criminal organizations. Prosecutors say it has deep connections globally, including ties to South American drug lords and associates in about 50 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
[…] After the initial wave of arrests, a handful of younger relatives of ‘Ndrangheta families started collaborating with prosecutors, betraying the familial bonds that are the backbone of the local clans.”