Inside the Italian mafia clan ‘richer than McDonald’s’ that raked in £44.8billion in one year, as 207 members were jailed after a trial at a specially constructed high-security bunker.
The baby-killing ‘Ndrangheta are from the toe of Italy’s boot, in Calabria, but their influence spreads worldwide – with a network of drug trafficking operations with influence far beyond the rugged landscape of the embattled region and into a reported 40 countries globally.
The ‘Ndrangheta’s family structure, with individual ‘clans’ based on blood ties, has in the past frustrated authorities’ attempts to get members behind bars, but a tribunal on Monday (November 20) convicted 207 people and sentenced them to a combined 2,100 years in prison.
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The organisation has now surpassed the Cosa Nostra, made famous by ‘The Godfather’ movies, in influence – after gaining prominence with the alleged kidnapping of the grandson of US-born oil tycoon John Paul Getty in 1973, severing the 16-year-old’s ear to help secure a ransom.
The group is today estimated to generate an eye watering £49billion every single year and it is said that the organisation is the only Italian Mafia with a tentacle on each continent.
According to Italy’s parliament, the ‘Ndrangheta controls more than 80% of the cocaine trade in Europe.
But the group reached a new low after committing an unimaginably evil act in 2014 over a drug-dealing territory feud.
Ruthless members torched a three-year-old to death before blasting the tragic little boy in the head.
The toddler, called Nicola ‘Coco’ Campolongo, was sitting in a Fiat Punto when he – along with his drug-dealing grandad and his girlfriend – was murdered by the group in the town of Cassano allo lonio.
He was reportedly used as a “human shield” by his grandad before his body was found strapped in a car seat in the burnt out car.
Describing the crime syndicate, Vittorio Rizzi, Deputy Director of Public Security in Italy, said: “It was born here in Calabria, in the lands of Southern Italy but today lives around the world.
“The ‘Ndrangheta is not an Italian folkloric phenomenon, it is a global threat. With Interpol we are promoters of a project aimed at attacking and destroying the ‘Ndrangheta.”
This project is called ICAN (Interpol Cooperation Against ‘Ndrangheta) and it helps different countries collect information on the organisation.
This legal battle is ongoing – and in 2019, more than 300 suspected members were arrested.
Before Monday’s convictions, 70 people had been jailed over murder, extortion and drug-trafficking charges.
Domenico Tomaino, Francesco Barbieri, and Vincenzo Barba, known as ‘The Wolf’, ‘Fatty’ and ‘The Musician’ respectively were all handed hefty sentences today.
The tense courtroom drama saw the acquittal of 131 other defendants. Defendants had been charged with crimes that include drug and arms trafficking, extortion and mafia association.
AP reported that some others were charged with acting in complicity with the ’ndrangheta without actually being a member.
Vincenzo Capomolla, deputy chief prosecutor of Catanzaro, said the trial highlighted the stranglehold the group has on Vibo Valentia, a city and commune in Calabria.
“The infiltration of the criminal organisation in the province of Vibo Valentia was so deep-rooted and so widespread, so alarming, so disturbing that I think it can be noted that there was no aspect of the life of the social economic fabric of the province that was not conditioned by the capacity of the force of intimidation of this so dangerous criminal organisation,” he said.
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