Calabria’s Hidden Mafia: The ‘Ndrangheta

For decades, one of the worlds biggest organised crime syndicates, the ‘Ndrangheta, has managed to evade the spotlight of the worlds press through their historical codes of silence to their secret underground bunkers scattered around the mountains of Calabria. It was only recently that a shocking confession from a ‘Pentito’ (or turncoat) has threatened the entire hierarchy of the Mafia itself. 

Emanuele Mancuso

Emanuele Mancuso is the major ‘rat’ within this Maxi Trial. His words and revelations are the cause of the majority of the prosecutions to his ‘ex’ family members. After having built a personal wealth of over £20 million pounds, he was arrested on drug trafficking charges, which would’ve seen him be behind bars for 4 years and 6 months. However, after his wife only recently gave birth to their first child, Emanuele promised to cut a deal with the Italian Government and sever all ties with the Mafia.

 Unlike the Sicilian Mafia, to join this Calabrian crew, you have to be blood related to enter the ranks. This is done as they believe a man will never turn against his family; yet how wrong they were.

The ‘Ndrangheta may also be known for the famous kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973. When his grandfather refused to pay the ransom of 17 million dollars, the crew cut off his ear and posted it to a newspaper with a lock of his hair. This isn’t new for them as the trial has uncovered that torture is a regular thing with stories of dissolving victims, still alive, in acid and many other horrible crimes. 

Virtual Trial

'NDrangheta: Lamezia Terme, Calabria
Lamezia Terme, Calabria: The ‘Ndrangheta trial is being held in a converted call center, now the ‘courtroom’..

It has not been since 1986 during the reign of the Sicilian based mafia; ‘La Cosa Nostra’, that a full scale ‘maxi trial’ has been held with more than 350 members to prosecute; in fact it took over two hours for the Judge to read out the indictments of every person on trial. However, during these strange times, the whole trial is being carried out on Zoom with cameras being set up in prison cells across the country.

The man taking on the Mafia is Nicola Gratteri. Since his promise to take down the entire organisation, he has been in hiding for months and needs round the clock protection at all times. Gratteri said it had been years since he had seen his family but explains how they understand that it is for the greater good. Gratteri needs little reminding of the man who did the exact same thing not so long ago. Giovanni Falcone put his life on the line and took down the Cosa Nostra; only for an explosive to be placed on his car and to tragically lose his life fighting the Mafia. 

End of the Mafia or Not?

'NDrangheta Emanuele Mancuso --Pantaleone

The people of Italy will be sick of the sound of the word ‘Mafia’ as they had only just begun to shake off the stereotype of the link with the country yet here we are in 2020 still talking about the same thing. It leads to the question; will this forever be a never ending cycle of different Mafia groups being in control every couple of decades or will this finally be the end of the Mafia?


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Maximillian Payne

Contributing Editor

I am a 20 year old student currently studying Journalism at the University of Portsmouth. My life goal and aim is that after I finish my degree, I will move abroad permanently to Italy, in particular Rome, and focus on travel journalism and sports journalism which are my two main passions. It is a very scary thing to think about moving abroad alone at a very young age but my deep passion and desire to live in Italy keeps me so motivated to execute my plans and live my very own ‘Dolce Vita’. Most of my hobbies have some link to Italy, none more so than my love for football as I am a very passionate supporter of club, S.S Lazio. In England, I am a season ticket holder at Chelsea where me and my family have a tradition of eating at the best Italian restaurant on the Kings Road in Chelsea called ‘Frantoio’. As well as this, I also am very intrigued and interested in the mafia and in particular the ‘Cosa Nostra’. I have many books on the detailing and history of it as well as every film. Unlike most people my age, my music taste is eclectic. I have a huge range of vinyl records as my favourite artists are Elvis, Bob Dylan, Paul Weller and people from those eras. Of course, I do like modern music too but not as much as the 70’s and 80’s! At this moment in time, I am trying to gain as much experience at writing as possible as well as making as many contacts in Italy before I move so I can have the best possible chance of it being a success.

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