‘Ndrangheta Mafia Fall Continues as Italian Police Arrest 43, Including Politicians

Posted on: June 28, 2023, 07:19h. 

Last updated on: June 28, 2023, 10:33h.

Italian police, with aid from international law enforcement divisions around the world, continue working to dismantle the ‘Ndrangheta criminal organization. The mafia group has a firm hold on illegal gambling, illicit drugs, and human trafficking around the globe. But new arrests might help loosen that grip.

Italian police conduct a raid on a supposed 'Ndrangheta Mafia location
Italian police conduct a raid on a supposed ‘Ndrangheta Mafia location. The country’s crackdown on the organized criminal organization continues with new arrests. (Image: EPA)

A significant anti-mafia operation conducted in the southernmost region of Calabria, the ‘Ndrangheta’s home, has led to the apprehension of 43 individuals by Italian law enforcement authorities. The Carabinieri issued a statement this Tuesday alleging that the individuals apprehended have connections to the infamous gang.

Various charges such as fraud, extortion, bribery, and murder awaited many of the arrestees, resulting in their detention in prison. Since last year, police have arrested more than 400 people with alleged ties to the ‘Ndrangheta.

Mob Reach Knows No Limits

Italian media reports indicate that certain politicians from Calabria were also caught up in the net. These politicians are under suspicion for their alleged involvement in rigging elections for the benefit of the mafia. Ongoing investigations are being conducted to determine the extent of their involvement.

The individuals involved in the operation conducted on Tuesday had been under scrutiny since 2018. Subsequently, authorities have concentrated their efforts on uncovering the possessions owned by the apprehended individuals, in addition to examining their political and economic alliances.

Among the politicians now in an unwanted spotlight are the former governor of Calabria, Gerardo Mario Oliverio. Joining him on a long list are public functionaries and mayors of the region, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.

While police were taking down the alleged criminals in Calabria, a separate operation was taking place in Milan. There, the authorities arrested 30 alleged ‘Ndrangheta associates accused of helping to manage the mafia’s illegal arms and drug trade in Latin America.

With such a large number of arrests, the investigation into the ‘Ndrangheta’s activity continues. It’s likely that there will be more arrests before it’s completed.

In addition to its control over illegal gambling and other illicit activity, the mob has also operated in legitimate sectors. The Italian police report that, in conjunction with the latest arrests, it had been targeting the real estate, catering, fruit and vegetable sales, and livestock trades.

‘Ndrangheta Loses Ground but Stays Alive

The ‘Ndrangheta has been in operation for more than 60 years and is known to be one of the most dangerous and powerful mafias. It may have started in the Southern Italian region of Calabria, but it quickly spread to other areas of Italy and the rest of the world.

The income of the criminal organization is estimated to be €35-€40 billion (US$38.31-$43.78 billion) per year. Like other mafias around the world, it stays strong and grows larger by maintaining blood ties. Currently, the authorities believe there are between 4,000 and 5,000 members. This would make it one of the largest, most well-organized mafias anywhere.

However, even criminal organizations can’t consider themselves too big to fail. The increased attention on the ‘Ndrangheta’s activities is hurting its integrity and causing it to fracture.

In addition to the arrests, Italy’s Central Directorate of Anti-Drug Services said recently that it set a record for cocaine seizures last year. It confiscated more than 26 tons from South America on routes controlled by the ‘Ndrangheta. That would have had a street value of around $2 billion, and the loss certainly would have hit the mob in its wallet.

Despite the crackdown, the ‘Ndrangheta remains strong. As long as it can continue to buy public officials and bribe private-sector employees to look the other way, stopping it won’t be an easy task.