Mega process against the Mafia start, Calabria and the world watch

It‘s the biggest mob case in 30 years. As of today, at least 350 members of the dreaded ‘ndrangheta from Calabria are in court in Italy. The trial takes place under heavy security in the Calabrese town of Lamezia Terme. And the prosecution is a born and raised Calabrees, Nicola Gratteri. A man who grew up with the same men who are now in front of the fence.

But this trial is more than a Calabrese case. According to writer and ndrangheta expert Antonio Nicaso, the Calabrese mafia has become a global conglomerate. โ€œIt is the largest and most powerful Mafia organization in the world. With a turnover between 50 and 60 billion euros.โ€ For comparison, Italy‘s largest company is ENI oil company. On an annual basis, they convert 70 billion.

Dragon with countless heads

The ‘ndrangheta became mainly large due to drug trafficking. โ€œBut with the money they earn, they are now investing in legal companies all over the world, says Nicaso.โ€ Especially during this pandemic, this creates great opportunities for the Calabrese mafia. โ€œMany companies are threatening to go bankrupt. The ‘ndrangheta can now buy it much easier, and use those companies to launder those tens of billions.โ€

The suspects in the trial were largely arrested in an international police operation in December 2019, but among the hundreds of mafiosi arrested there is only one capo. Luigi Mancuso, also known as ‘The Oom‘, ‘The Wolf‘ or ‘The Fat‘. Therefore, this lawsuit will not be a huge blow to the day-to-day affairs of the ‘ndrangheta. The organization is a dragon with countless heads.

Dutch interest

It is estimated that around 10,000 members of the ‘ndrangheta are active worldwide. โ€œIf you condemn ten people, there are twenty others to take over those places,โ€ says Nicaso. And the ‘ndrangeta is much more like a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda than its fellow mafiosi in Sicily. โ€œTwelve clans are on trial in this process. And they work as independent cells. There is a loose structure at the top, but that‘s more about logistics than about actual management of the organisation.โ€

Still, Nicaso expects a lot from this lawsuit. โ€œThis process is going to take at least a year, maybe two years. During that period we can learn a lot about how the ‘ndrangheta works.โ€

And that is not just true of the Italian authorities. Also the international, and not least the Netherlands. According to mafia experts such as Stan de Jong, the Netherlands has become the warehouse for the Italian mafia thanks to a combination of Schiphol, the port in Rotterdam and mild penalties for drug crimes.

โ€œWall of blood ties not unbreakableโ€

But the process is also important for Calabria itself. The ‘ndrangheta has crept deep into the capillaries of society, including by providing food aid to the inhabitants of the poor region. For example, they bought the help and silence of part of the population. โ€œBut the Mafia did not create itself to help poor people. They want to become rich themselves,โ€ says Nicosa.

That is why he considers it symbolically important that the trial should start today in Calabria. With a Calabrees as a prosecutor. โ€œIt indicates that the wall of blood ties is not unbreakable. That not everyone in Calabria is in the power of the ‘ndrangheta. That you can fight the mob too.โ€