The alleged boss of the Calabrian mafia 'Ndrangheta, Andrea Bruni (c), leaves the police station in Cosenza, Italy, December 15, 2010. EFE/Francesco Arena

More Than 200 People Linked to Powerful ‘Ndrangheta Mafia Sentenced in Italy

Gonzalo Sanchez

Rome, Nov 20 (EFE). – The Italian judiciary on Monday sentenced more than 200 people, including bosses, politicians and other personalities, for belonging to or collaborating with the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia, one of the most violent and powerful criminal organizations in the world.

There were 343 people on the bench, of whom 208 were convicted and 131 were acquitted or benefited from the statute of limitations on the crimes, according to the local press.

This verdict concludes the first phase of the largest trial against the Italian Mafia since the historic one in Palermo (south) in 1986, which brought to justice more than 460 criminals of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.

Capos and politicians

Among those sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday was the former deputy of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Giancarlo Pittelli, accused of collaborating with this criminal organization and of having political ties with the Mancuso clan.

The lieutenant of the Carabinieri, Giorgio Naselli, was also sentenced to two and a half years, and the former commander of the Vibo Valentia City Guard, Filippo Nesci, to four years.

The most severe sentences were handed down to Saverio Razionale, the reputed boss of the San Gregorio d’Ipona area, Domenico Bonavota, the boss of Sant’Onofrio, and Paolino Lo Bianco, the boss of the Lo Bianco clan, all sentenced to thirty years in prison.

While the former mayor of Pizzo Calabro, in the province of Vibo Valentia, Gianluca Callipo, for whom the prosecution had requested 20 years in prison, was acquitted.

The Rinascita-Scott Operation

This trial opened in January 2021 as a result of the so-called Operation Rinascita-Scott, which in 2019 saw the arrest of more than 400 people in Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and Switzerland linked to the ‘Ndrangheta.

The defendants are charged with membership in a mafia organization, murder, attempted murder, racketeering, illegal possession of weapons and explosives, influence peddling, corruption, abuse of power and drug trafficking.

The trial is aimed at decapitating the powerful ‘Ndrangheta clans, and for security reasons the hearings in this nearly three-year trial have been held in a bunker built in an industrial park in the Calabrian city of Lamezia Terme.

The Italian authorities chose to hold the trial in the region where this criminal organization operates, Calabria, the “Tip of the Italian Boot,” to send a message of the strength and presence of the State.

At the center of the investigation is the “‘ndrina” or Mancuso clan, considered by researchers as one of the most powerful and influential families of the ‘Ndrangheta and true authority in the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia.

The city’s prosecutor, Vincenzo Capomolla, celebrated the verdict and warned that until the operation, practically nothing and no one escaped the shadow of the ‘Ndrangheta in this province.

“The presence of the criminal organization in the province was so deep-rooted, widespread, alarming and disturbing that I believe it can be said that there was no area of life, of its economic and social fabric, that was not conditioned by the intimidation of such a dangerous organization,” he told the media.

In November 2021, another 70 sentences were handed down to defendants who had opted for the abbreviated rite, a procedure in which the judicial debate phase is waived in exchange for a significant reduction in the sentence.

What is the ‘Ndragheta?

The ‘Ndrangheta is a multinational criminal organization that in recent years has surpassed in power the other classic criminal organizations in Italy, such as Cosa Nostra or the Neapolitan Camorra.

With the impenetrable mountains of Calabria, Italy’s poorest region, as its stronghold, it was long underestimated as a small criminal organization confined to its territory.

Over time, however, it grew and spread its tentacles throughout the world, thanks to gambling, corruption of public tenders and, above all, drugs from Latin America.

Today, the ‘Ndrangheta is the most powerful mafia in Italy and one of the wealthiest in the world, generating around 50 billion euros a year, according to experts such as prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, the father of the operation that led to this trial. EFE