Hunting down the Calabrian Mafia in Italy

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Italian prosecutor Nicola Gratteri is on a mission -- against the mafia. After ordering the arrest of nearly 350 members of the notorious 'Ndrangheta syndicate, along with politicians and officials accused of assisting them, he is now launching Italy’s biggest mafia trial in three decades.

The trial began in mid-January in the town of Lemezia Terme in Calabria, the heartland of the ‘Ndrangheta. The trial specifically targets the Mancuso clan, which has controlled the area of Vibo Valentia for decades and plays a key role in the smuggling of cocaine from South America. The largest court case of its kind since the Palermo maxi trials in the 1980s, this trial has been years in the making. In 2019, regional chief prosecutor Nicola Gratteri - who has lived under constant police protection for the past 30 years - dealt a major blow to Europe’s most dangerous mafia group, overseeing more than 350 arrests in coordinated raids that shut down businesses and seized dirty money.

Leading witnesses, journalists and the families of the victims are among the many hoping the trial will curtail the power of the fearsome ‘Ndrangheta. We hear from a former member of the group, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of his life. He confirms that arms trafficking, money laundering, extortion and murder are part and parcel of the group’s operations. And those operations are lucrative - worth some 55 billion euros a year. Relatives of the ’Ndrangheta’s victims, like Vincenzo Chindamo, are also following the trial closely. The body of his sister Maria has never been found. Through the testimony of a key witness, the family learned that she was probably murdered by a member of the ’Ndrangheta because she refused to sell her land to the group. Journalist Michele Albanese, who has been reporting on the crimes of the mafia in Calabria for years despite the risk to his life, is also hoping that the trial will be a milestone in the fight against the ’Ndrangheta.

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