Landmark ‘Ndrangheta Maxi-Trial Results in 200 Convictions

Italy’s largest Mafia trial since the 1980s concluded on Monday, with 207 defendants, including former politicians and law enforcement officials, receiving their sentences. The trial, which lasted three years, targeted individuals with ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, the country’s most powerful Mafia organization, and resulted in convictions for offenses such as Mafia association, extortion, drug trafficking, and murder.

A total of 42 women were among the defendants, with 39 of them being convicted. The trial saw over 100 defendants acquitted, while the remaining individuals received sentences totaling more than 2,200 years in prison, delivered by a panel of three judges who had deliberated the case since the trial wrapped up in October.

Held in the Calabria region, a traditional stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta, the trial took place in a converted call center in the town of Lamezia Terme. The makeshift high-security courtroom had the capacity to accommodate 600 lawyers and 900 witnesses, and it was fitted with cages to hold the defendants.

Often considered the most powerful criminal organization in Italy and possibly the world, the ‘Ndrangheta is believed to have a presence in over 100 countries and generate annual revenues ranging from $50 billion to $100 billion. The organization is also reputed to control 80% of the cocaine market in Europe and play a significant role in the illegal arms trade, including supplying weapons to both sides in the Syrian civil war.

The trial resulted in the conviction of numerous ‘Ndrangheta-affiliated local officials, businessmen, and politicians, underscoring the depth of the organization’s infiltration into Italy’s legitimate economy and state institutions.

High-profile defendants included Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and former senator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, who was sentenced to 11 years for Mafia association. Domenico Tomaino, known as “The Wolf,” and alleged clan bosses “Fatty” Francesco Barbieri and Vincenzo “The Musician” Barba were also among the defendants sentenced on Monday.

The investigation, which began in 2016, focused on the Mancuso family and their associates, one of the most powerful families within the ‘Ndrangheta. In December 2019, around 2,500 law enforcement officers conducted coordinated raids on the suspects, with the prosecution presenting 24K wiretaps and testimony from over 50 former ‘Ndrangheta members who cooperated with authorities.