Ndrangheta in southern Italy in the region of Calabria

Vincent C Figliomeni, PhD
[email protected]
‘Ndrangheta in Calabria
• This is the Calabrian version of the Mafia. They use violence
for maintaining the fear and informal social control over the
population with whom their very existence ironically is
•On the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, there is
good reason to revisit this ‘Ndrangheta issue as it persists in
stifling the political, social and economic development of an
otherwise culturally serene and potentially rich southern most
region on the Italian peninsula
•This study is still ongoing and provides an analytic framework
in order to better understand this crime problem as well as to
offer some salient criminological strategies that can enhance
current progress of combating this criminal element that is
infested into the social fabric of Calabria
• The ‘Ndrangheta groups are approx 100 total 6000. Until
1975, the 'Ndrangheta restricted their Italian operations
to Calabria, mainly involved in extortion and blackmailing
- kidnapping rich targets from Northern Italy.
• Local Gang wars occurred in 1975 subsiding after a few
years errupting again in the Second 'Ndrangheta war
from 1985 to 1991. Interests expanded worldwide.
• In the 1990s, the Ndrangheta invested in the illegal
international drug trade importing cocaine from
• Meanwhile the Sicilian Mafia was the focal point of
Italian authorities. The Mafia’s violent confrontation with
state and civil society culminated in the 1992 murders of
judges Falcone and Borsellino, which invoked the antimafia movement causing strong legislative and law
enforcement countermeasures.
• On 16 October 2005 Francesco Fortugno, popular
center-left politician and deputy president of the regional
parliament was asasinated by the 'Ndrangheta in Locri.
• The Italian government started large-scale enforcement
operations in Calabria arresting hundreds of
‘Ndrangheta members and associates including the
those alleged to be the murderers of Fortugno.
• Demonstrations occurred against the ‘Ndrangheta and
subsided gradually as prosecutions dragged out.
• The 'Ndrangheta had already expanded to Northern
Italy to sell drugs and to invest in legitimate businesses
used for money laundering.
• In May 2007 twenty 'Ndrangheta were arrested in Milan.
• On 30 August 2007 police raided the small Calabrian town of
San Luca, the focal point of rival clans among the 'Ndrangheta.
Over 30 men and women, linked to the killing of six Italian men
in Duisenberg Germany, were arrested.
• In March 2006, a national anti-Mafia prosecutor discovered a
'Ndrangheta narco submarine in Colombia to be used for
smuggling cocaine.
• In September 2009 'Ndrangheta allegedly sunk dozens of ships
loaded with radioactive waste off the Italian coast and near
developing countries.
• Reports of other toxic dumping have emerged (Cordova 2010)
• Last year, ‘Ndrangheta Associates were arrested in
operations on 3 continents:
Italy/Germany, Canada and Australia.
In July 2010, the 305 'Ndrangheta members arrested revealed that the
'ndrangheta was extremely "hierarchical, united and pyramidal," and not just
clan-based as previously believed, according to Italy's chief anti-mafia
prosecutor Piero Grasso.
• These recent international arrests have included
mayor’s, police, and civil servants along with rank in file.
• The arrests stemmed from a wiretapping operation by
Italian police in which they recorded senior mafia
suspects discussing operations all over the world.
• Those arrested were charged with offences e.g., drug
trafficking, money laundering and protection rackets and
possession of arms and explosives.
• Furthermore, anti-mafia legislation has become the target of
politicians and state officials colluding with the mafia or sharing
mafiosi's judicial interests.
• Italy’s current Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been
suspected of investing and laundering Cosa Nostra money at
the beginning of his career.
He has been countering anti-corruption and anti-mafia
investigations against him and his associates ever since his
political career began in 1994 .
• Even more than in the past, the survival of mafia groups seems
to depend on how their relationships with politics are set up in
the future (Paoli 2003: 212).
• “On 30 May 2008, George Bush inserted the Ndrangheta
on the black-list of undesirable oganizations,
implemented through the Kingpin Act of 1999.
The immediate consequence of the presidential decision
was the connection between persons of the USA
affiliated with or doing business with Ndrangheta money.
In the USA, it’s enough that one buys a pizzaria with
dirty money and the FBI arrive and place you in
handirons and seal-up the establishment until resold for
the best offer. The news is sensational. But in Italy, it
goes unnoticed.” (Veltri/Laudati 2009:149)
• USA does not have all of the legal authorities in place to
eliminate organized crime like the ‘Ndragheta.
• Rather, working in concert in a global effort to share
criminal intelligence (some law enforcement in Italy does
inform the USA of the Ndrangheta) as much as the USA
informs Italy of American Cosa Nostra operating abroad.
• “The Ndrangheta is invisible like the other side of the
moon” according to Florida State Prosecutor, Julie
Tingwall, in Tampa during the 1980’s
• “Few insider witnesses & powerful families do not exibit
grand villas, but live modestly. Ndrangheta is entrenched
with the state and doesn’t combat it. The state is weak
and the Ndrangheta needs it for its public spending:
banking, financing,hospitals, roads superhighways,
railroad, ports, central electric power, power incineration
are welcome because it brings money.” (Veltri/Laudati
• Giuseppe Pignatone anti-mafia prosecutor Reggio Calabria:
• "The foreign groups always maintain contact with the
centre of operations (in Reggio Calabria area) where
they periodically come to take their orders, directives,
long-term strategies, as well as give an account of what's
going on. The fulcrum remains Calabria."
• Unlike the Sicilian Mafia, the 'Ndrangheta managed to
maintain a horizontal organizational structure up to the
early 1990s, avoiding the establishment of a formal
superordinate body.
• Information from recent witnesses has undermined the
myth of absolute autonomy of Calabrian crime families.
• According to Italian DIA (Direzione Investigativa Antimafia,
Department of the Police of Italy against organized crime)
and Guardia di Finanza (Italian Customs Police) the
‘Ndrangheta is one of the most powerful criminal elements.
Economic activities of 'Ndrangheta include international
cocaine and weapons smuggling, with Italian investigators
estimating that 80% of Europe's cocaine passes through
the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro and is controlled by the
'Ndrangheta. (Europol 2010).
• The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
estimated that in 2007 almost 4 MT of cocaine was
intercepted in Italy. (UNODC 2009).
• 'Ndrangeta groups and Sicilian Cosa Nostra groups
sometimes act as joint ventures in cocaine trafficking
• Further activities include skimming money off large
public work construction projects, money laundering and
traditional crimes such as usury and extortion.
• 'Ndrangheta invests illegal profits in legal real estate and
financial activities.
• The business volume of the 'Ndrangheta is estimated at
almost 44 billion euro in 2007, approximately 2.9% of
Italy's GDP, according to Eurispes (European Institute of
Political, Economic and Social Studies) in Italy.
• “The most important challenge facing the Italian political
class in the anti-mafia struggleis is identical of that which
it confronts in the wider sphere
– that of relegitimizing the exercise of public power by
example, of leading Italians toward a faith in public
authority and institutions and reversing the common view
of the state as a hostile force to be distrusted to one
which recognizes it as guardian of the collective good….
…in Paolo Borsellino’s words, if the state ‘works’
throughout Italy, there is a real chance that the criminal
phenomenon whch has so tragically depleted the
extraordinary people and land of Italy’s mezzogiorno will
wither and fade away” (Jamieson 2000: 235).
• “Ndrangheta is the strongest, most flexible, dynamic, and
trusted in the international drug trafficking market, most
rooted in Italy, in the center, in the north, and abroad.
“(Gratteri/Nicaso 2011: 143)
• But it is the least studied and most mysterious. A mafia
that seeks to move shielded from the spotlight with the
exception of the murder of Francesco Fortugno Regional
Vice President (2005 in Locri) and the Duisburg affair
(2007 in Germany), that the Ndtangheta considered a
dangerous accident. A mafia that prefers to build social
relations and penetrates in silence politics and
institutions in order to exercise control totally in the
sector of public works contracts and management of
public finances, national and European. “(Gratteri/Nicaso
2011: 144)
• “In order to defeat the mafia, you need the forces
necessary to stay everyday in that sector to control the
level and magnitude of penetration into contracts, local
entities and politics. “(Gratteri/Nicaso 2011: 151)”
• “The battle is cultural, a problem of social intervention
and long term education. ..There is undoutibly a
responsibility and a duty for those that lost their lives
constructing long term legality and justice of the nation,
but also a committment really embraced by all and that
can’t be delegated to only law enforcent and or the
judiciary: a duty to do our part like citizens, and of
organizers.” (Morabito/Ciotti 2010:115)
• - over a hundred years of tradition
• - integrated into both illegitimate and legitimate business
• - have less pentiti as the close bloodties among
associates avoids insider witnesses
• - culturally more relavant and socially more potent than
the government
• More customized Laws designed to identify, interrupt and
infiltrate illegal business transactions among suspected
organized crime actors are required
• Prosecution is complex, legnthly and dependent on
reluctant witnesses often creating loopholes for those on
• Pretrial rules require more stringent application
• Anti-organized crime studies in schools at all grades
• Community-wide public demonstrations stressing civic
ethical and moral condemnation of the ‘Ndrangheta and
organized crime
• Public aweareness campaigns on negative impacts of
Ndrangheta organized crime on local and global
• More flexible and effective Legislation in support of
enforcement against Ndrangheta organized crime
• Public awareness of successful prosecutions
• Greater local legitimate economic opportunities
• Collect Official Crime data on ‘Ndrangheta
• Content Analysis of Media Coverage
• Interviews with key leaders in Calabria
– Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges
– Political, Social Services, and Business leaders
– Educators and Religious leaders
• Issue Public Opinion Questionnaire regarding
political, social, cultural, and economic change
Dr. Vincent C Figliomeni, PhD
[email protected]
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