Verdicts expected in Italian maxi-trial involving ‘Ndrangheta mafia members

After close to a three-year-long trial, hundreds of accused individuals associated with one of the country’s most influential organised criminal groups, the ‘Ndrangheta’, face sentencing.


Verdicts are expected Monday in the trial of hundreds of people accused of membership in Italy’s ’Ndrangheta organised crime syndicate, one of the world’s most powerful, extensive and wealthy drug-trafficking groups.

The trial started almost three years ago in the southern Calabria region, where the mob organisation was originally based. The ’Ndrangheta quietly amassed power in Italy and abroad as the Sicilian Mafia lost influence. The organisation has been expanding its reach over decades, established bases in western, northern, and central Europe, Australia, and North and South America. It is also active in Africa.

Over 320 defendants are facing a range of charges, including drug and arms trafficking, extortion, and mafia association – a term in Italy’s penal code for members of organised crime groups. Some individuals are accused of complicity with the ‘Ndrangheta’ without formal membership.

The trial unfolded in a specially constructed high-security bunker within an industrial park in Lamezia Terme. The extensive facility required the installation of numerous video screens suspended from the ceiling to enable participants to follow the proceedings.

 The prime suspect, Luigi Mancuso, has previously served 19 years in an Italian prison for leading one of the most powerful crime families within the ‘Ndrangheta in Vibo Valentia.

While historically resistant to informants due to familial ties, the ‘Ndrangheta is experiencing an increase in turncoats. A relative of Mancuso is among those providing evidence in the Lamezia Terme trial.

While the trial boasts an impressive number of defendants, it does not surpass Italy’s largest mob trial in 1986. In Palermo, a specially constructed bunker hosted the trial of 475 alleged members of the Cosa Nostra, resulting in over 300 convictions and 19 life sentences. 

In contrast, the ‘Ndrangheta trial aims to expose alleged collusion between mobsters and local politicians, public officials, businessmen, and members of secret lodges, highlighting the syndicate’s deep entrenchment in the territory.

Fuelled by revenues from cocaine trafficking, the ‘Ndrangheta has invested in various businesses, including hotels, restaurants, pharmacies, and car dealerships across Italy, with a particular focus on Rome and the affluent north. 

Investigations have revealed an expansive buying spree throughout Europe, as the ‘Ndrangheta sought to launder illicit funds and generate “clean” money through legitimate enterprises, notably in the tourism and hospitality sectors.


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