Italy has put 330 people on trial over their mob ties.
The trials will take place in Southern Italy against the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate - arguably one of the wealthiest organized crime organizations in the world. As the Sicilian mafia declines in power and influence, the 'Ndrangheta seem to have taken the reins of the underworld in Italy.
Around 330 mobsters and their close associates are on trial for charges of drug trafficking, extortion, and theft. The 'Ndrangheta outfit is based in Calabria, the country’s southern tip, and is described by prosecutors as the most powerful mafia group in Italy.
The trial will take place in a heavily fortified call-center in Lamezia Terme, with the defendants safely secured behind metal cages and several rows of desks set up for scores of lawyers, prosecutors, and spectators.
At the onset, the trial hit a snag when three judges assigned to the case, asked to be recused citing involvement in prior aspects of the investigation. The prosecution will call on 913 witnesses while drawing on 24,000 hours of intercepted conversations. According to chief prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, the case should be completed in a year, with judges sitting for six days a week.
The prosecution hopes that convictions from this trial will deal a significant blow to ‘Ndrangheta (mob organization based in Calabria), which has exploited tens of billions in the cocaine trade, expanding their reach past Europe. Money and power have seen them acquire hotels, restaurants, car dealerships, pharmacies, and several other businesses throughout Italy, particularly in Rome’s affluent North.
‘Ndrangheta was almost impenetrable at the start due to its adherence to blood ties. However, as their numbers swelled, it’s no surprise that one of those turning state evidence is a relative of Mancuso. Several dozen informants come from within the organizations’ ranks while others are former members of the Cosa Nostra.
The last time a trial of this magnitude involving the mafia took place was three decades ago. Many Italians can relate it to the 1986 Palermo trials where 475 members of the Italian Cosa Nostra Sicilian-based mafia were put on trial resulting in over 300 convictions.