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PO LI C E R AI D

H O M ES
regular basis and much of this
can be attributed to Europe’s
new drug-trafficking
superpower: the ’Ndrangheta.
The group’s members
started to use their emerging
influence to do business with
local public officials, obtaining
contracts in exchange for
delivering votes for political
campaigns. It was alleged that
the government of Milan’s
former Mayor, Letizia Moratti,
was heavily infiltrated by the
criminal organisation, despite
her publicly denying it on more
than one occasion.
However, it was later
discovered their political
connections had allowed
them to muscle in on highprofile contracts such as
high-speed railways and the
Milan-Venice highway.

The peak

WORDS: Joe Barnes
PICS: PA Photos, Corbis, Rex Shutterstock, Getty Images

As the gang’s illicit profits
reached its highest level, with
€20bn coming from illegal
rubbish disposal alone and
another €24bn from drug

trafficking, the authorities
decided to step in – and
launched a national
Anti-Mafia taskforce
to bring down the
’Ndrangheta. However,
the group carried on
using financial donations
to convince corrupt
politicians to cover for
them. By 2014 its global
income was €53bn.

The cops move in

At the height of its success,
cracks started to appear
between different factions
of the group. One shocking
moment in 2007 brought
them under the international
spotlight.
Six Italian men, thought to
be part of rival ’Ndrangheta
clans, were massacred in
Germany while leaving a
birthday party. This led to
the Italian officials launching
a crackdown on ’Ndrangheta
operations.
In 2011, a suspected boss,
Francesco Maisano, was

arrested for the first
time, being flanked by Italian
paramilitary leaving his house
in Calabria. Hidden in a secret
bunker, he was found after an
extensive search of his
property. Eventually, more
than 300 gang members were
arrested across the world.

Busted

In July 2015, enough evidence
had been collected on the gang,
and even US undercover
officers were sent in to infiltrate
the transatlantic business of
the mob. Italian police issued
41 more arrest warrants and
seized 1,500 betting shops, 82
gambling websites, 45 Italian
companies and another 11
businesses on foreign soil
worth close to £1.5bn.
While it was found the
companies were most likely
not profitable, they were used
by the gang to recycle a huge
amount of “dirty money” which
they reinvested in legitimate
enterprise. And although the
£1.5bn is a small dent in the
’Ndrangheta’s business, it has
proven a massive boost for the
Anti-Mafia taskforce.

Cosa Nostra

Also known as
the Sicilian Mafia,
a group of families
and “clans” who
operate with similar
structure, methods,
and interests.

Camorra

BERNARDO
PROVENZANO

One of the oldest and
largest criminal
organisations in Italy,
unlike the Mafia’s
“Godfather” structure,
the Camorra clans act
independently.

M AR IO
RI CC IO

Sacra Corona
Unita

Set up in the 1970s,
it specialises in
smuggling, charging
criminal groups
“landing rights” to
the Apulian coast.

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CA MP AN A

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