ENTER THE 'NDRANGHETA: 20 Incredible Facts About The New Rulers Of The Italian Criminal Underworld

Italy Mafia 'NdranghetaItalian police hold back supporters of Giovanni Tegano, a 70 year old ‘Ndrangheta gangster arrested in 2010.

Photo: AP

The Cosa Nostra may be the most famous criminal group in Italy, but they are no longer thought to be the most powerful, thanks to a series of high profile arrests and defections.Instead, a new, more secretive, and more impenetrable group has emerged from the Southern region of Calebria to become the de facto controller of Europe’s drug trade. The ‘Ndrangheta.

So who are these shadowy newcomers? Let’s take a look.

The FBI believes that the 'Ndrangheta group was formed in the 1860s by a group of Sicilians exiled from their native island.


The group remained mostly within Calebria until a gang war in 1975 claimed 300 lives.

A later gang war in the 1980s ended with 700 dead.


Members kidnapped oil tycoon heir John Paul Getty III in 1973.

They eventually received $2.7 million from Getty's family (but only after cutting off his ear).


The group only became big players in the drugs trade in the 1990s.

The reason? A sharp drop in the price of heroin forced them to switch to cocaine, and Colombian cartels found them better to deal with than their Sicilian counterparts.


Italian officials have estimated that 80 per cent of Europe's cocaine now enters through the Calebrian coast.


U.S. officials say that Calebria would be a failed state if it were not a part of Italy


It's though that much as 3 per cent of the Italian GDP may be a result of the actions of the 'Ndrangheta


There are thought to be 10,000 members in the world today.


They're known for their brutal methods.

In 1991, the members killed a butcher in the village of Taurianova in broad daylight. They cut off his head with one of his own knives and used the head for target practice in the village's main piazza.

No witnesses ever came forward.


There have been very few informants from the 'Ndrangheta

Before 2008, there were 1,000 pentiti (informants) from the Sicily's Cosa Nostra, 2,000 from Naples's Camorra and only 42 with the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta.

The organisation keeps so close by maintaining strict blood ties via intermarriage.

'There are families that have intermarried as many as four times in the 20th century,' one expert told the Guardian.


Despite their wealth Ndrangheta remains rooted in small villages in Calabria, in particular two hamlets, Plati and San Luca.

When police raided one of the villages in 2001, they discovered a whole network of underground tunnels.


One lucrative field of work was sinking ships full of radioactive waste off the coast of Italy.


In 2006 police seized a submarine that had been built by the 'Ndrangheta, with the hope of smuggling drugs from Colombia.


Luckily they have so many contacts in the financial world now, that's not too much of a problem.

They've recently begun working with the Mexican drug cartels


The group have been largely responsible for the mafia infiltration of Milan, formerly a safe haven from the chaos of Southern Italy


It's thought they've even managed to get politicians elected.

Votes from ex-pat Italians are thought to have been bought to get Berlusconi party member Nicola Di Girolamo elected in 2008.

In 2010, Di Girolamo was arrested for money laundering.


Police across Europe are now working together to catch them.

This video, released by Spanish police, shows the moment undercover officers arrested Carmelo Gallico, the head of one 'Ndrangheta clan, in Barcelona.

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