Italian Mafia: 200 Sentenced in ‘Ndrangheta Maxi-Trial

Posted on: November 21, 2023, 08:33h. 

Last updated on: November 21, 2023, 02:55h.

A former Italian senator, an ex-police chief, a former mayor, and two former regional councilors were among 207 defendants sentenced Monday in Italy’s biggest Mafia trial since the 1980s.

‘Ndrangheta, Mafia, trial, Italy
The all-female panel of judges, above, who lived under police protection during the three-year trial, took an hour and 40 minutes to read out the sentences. (Image: Associated Press)

The three-year “maxi-trial” saw individuals allegedly linked to the country’s most powerful Mafia organization, the ‘Ndrangheta, sentenced for crimes ranging from Mafia association to extortion, drug trafficking, and murder.

Among the defendants were 42 women, 39 of whom were convicted. More than 100 defendants were acquitted.

A panel of three judges, deliberating the case since the trial wrapped up in October, took one hour and 40 minutes to deliver the sentences, totaling more than 2,200 years in prison.

Rise to Power

The trial was held in a converted call center in the town of Lamezia Terme in the Calabria region, traditionally a stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta. Authorities held the trial in this location to send a message about the state’s power.

The makeshift high-security courtroom was big enough to accommodate 600 lawyers and 900 witnesses and was fitted with cages to hold the defendants.

For many years, the poor cousin of the Cosa Nostra and the Camorra, the ‘Ndrangheta has risen to become Italy’s most powerful criminal organization and, quite possibly, the world. It has a presence in over 100 countries and estimated revenues of $50 billion to $100 billion annually.

The organization is believed to run 80% of the cocaine in Europe and control much of the illegal arms trade around the world, selling weapons to both sides in the Syrian civil war.

The conviction of scores of ‘Ndrangheta-affiliated local officials, businessmen, and politicians shows how deeply the organization has infiltrated Italy’s legitimate economy and state institutions.

‘The Musician’ and ‘the Wolf’

Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and former senator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, was the most high-profile defendant. He was sentenced to 11 years for Mafia association.

Among those sentenced Monday was Domenico Tomaino, known as “The Wolf,” who once left a dead dolphin on the doorstep of a businessman who owed money. Meanwhile, alleged clan bosses “Fatty” Francesco Barbieri and Vincenzo “The Musician” Barba were sentenced to 24 and 28 years, respectively.

The investigation began in 2016 and focused on the Mancuso family and their associates. The clan is one of the most powerful of the 150 families that make up the ‘Ndrangheta.

In December 2019, around 2,500 law enforcement officers coordinated raids on the suspects. The prosecution included 24K wiretaps and testimony from more than 50 former ‘Ndrangheta members, who agreed to cooperate with authorities, including Luigi Mancuso’s nephew, Emanuele.