There are fears Italy’s three most powerful mafia groups may have formed a formidable alliance after images emerge of leading figures sharing a meal together.
Senior members from the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate based in the peninsular region of Calabria, the Camorra of Naples and Cosa Nostra, which is based in Sicily, were allegedly caught on camera sharing a meal of pasta and wine together in a garden in April 2021.
The meeting was reportedly one of many that police had under surveillance with prosecutors warning the emergence of a grand crime coalition in the affluent north of Italy.
‘This is Milan,’ one alleged Camorra mafia don was heard saying to an ally. ‘We’re not in Sicily, we’re not in Rome, we’re not in Naples, this is where we’re doing the good stuff,’ according to a Telegraph report.
A suspected member of Cosa Nostra allegedly replied: ‘We’ve built an empire.’
Senior members of Italy ‘s three most powerful mafia groups are alleged to have formed a formidable alliance after images from footage recorded by police emerge of them sharing a meal together
Sicilian mafia boss Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, succumbed to his battle with cancer at a prison hospital in Parma shortly after being put in medically-induced coma in 2017. Rina was believed to have ordered the killing of more that 150 people
Casalesi clan mafia boss Michele Zagaria being escorted out of the Police Headquarters in Caserta Italy in 2011. His clan was one of the Camorra’s most feared families
It has been reported the three powerful criminal organisations had put aside their historic rivalries to form a ‘super mafia’ alliance which is taking advantage of business opportunities in the Lombardy region of the north.
They are suspected of making hundreds of millions of euros investing in legitimate businesses in global fashion capital Milan.
The organisations had forged ‘an evolved criminal network’ after agreeing ‘a stable and enduring accord between Calabrian, Sicilian and Roman mafia members, a sort of confederation,’ prosecutors told the Telegraph.
The recently formed mafia in Rome is reportedly a hybrid of Camorra and ‘Ndrangheta criminals.
The prosecutor’s claims surfaced following a three-year undercover operation called Hydra.
Reports suggest about 600 Carabinieri police officers conducted a series of dawn raids on Wednesday, arresting 11 alleged mafia members on a raft of charges, including extortion, illegal possession of firearms and drug-related charges among others.
It is understood more than 225 million euros’ worth of assets were seized, while at least 142 people were still under investigation, suspected of mafia involvement.
There are also claims some of the suspects are allegedly linked to brutal Cosa Nostra mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.
While public bloodbaths, assassinations and ferocious feuds were often a way of life for these mafia bosses, they are now said to be keeping a low profile, choosing white collar crime over public shoot-outs.
The Camorra, one of the oldest and largest criminal institutions in the world, is known for its drug and crime operations, robbing people and committing violent attacks.
Francesco Maisano, alleged Mafia boss of the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate, flanked by paramilitary police soon after his arrest in Calabria, southern Italy in March 2011
Sicilian mafia boss Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina during his trial in May 1994.
Ruthless Cosa Nostra boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, died of colon cancer this year , aged 61
They came into the spotlight last year after it was revealed the Camorra recruit ‘baby-faced’ youngsters to be the mafia bosses of tomorrow.
Like the Camorra, the ‘Ndrangheta are also one of the most extensive and powerful criminal organisations in the world.
Their roots are in the Italian region of Calabria, but they have reportedly expanded to more than 40 countries worldwide and continue to grow at a steady rate.
They are involved in a wide range of organised criminal activities, from drug trafficking and money laundering to extortion and the rigging of public contracts.
Their enormous profits are then reinvested into legitimate companies, further strengthening the organisation’s power and influence.
Police revealed in September that Italian mother Maria Chindamo, who vanished seven years ago, was murdered and her body fed to pigs by a ‘Ndrangheta mobster.
The Italian Department of Public Security spends millions of euros in an effort to disrupt the numerous global networks of the notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia.
In 2021, 70 mobsters involved with the ‘Ndrangheta were jailed for up to 20 years in one of the largest mafia trials in more than three decades.
Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather movies, is made up of a coalition of criminal organisations – called ‘families’ or ‘clans’.
They too engage in extortion, smuggling, gambling, and the mediation of disagreements between other criminals.
One of their most infamous and ruthless mafia bosses, Matteo Messina Denaro, died of colon cancer this year, aged 61.
Denaro, who was dubbed the ‘last godfather’ of the Cosa Nostra, spent 30 years on the run for murdering 50, including a boy dissolved in acid.
He once boasted that he could fill a cemetery with the people he had killed.
Who are the ‘Ndrangheta mafia?
The crime syndicate originates from Calabria, the impoverished southern region at the tip of Italy’s boot. The name is believed to come from the ancient Greek words andros and agathos, meaning brave or valiant man.
They expanded substantially from the 1970s. During this time, one of its main activities was perpetrating kidnappings and reinvesting ransom money into public work projects and drug trafficking, especially cocaine.
The ‘Ndrangheta kidnapped dozens of high-profile victims, including celebrities such as John Paul Getty III, the heir to US oil family. He was abducted off the streets of Rome in 1973 and held prisoner for five months in the Calabrian mountains.
The syndicate cut off Getty’s right ear in a desperate attempt to get his family to pay the reported £2.1m ransom. His harrowing story was later recounted in Ridley Scott’s film All the Money in the World and in the Danny Boyle TV series Trust.
Italian research group Eurispes valued the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual turnover in 2008 at an astounding €44 billion euros (£38,32 billion), about 3 per cent of Italy’s gross domestic product at the time. They have reportedly expanded to more than 40 countries worldwide and continue to grow at a steady rate.
The syndicate is alleged to have a role as a major smuggler of cocaine from Latin America to Europe. It is also thought to make money from illegal waste trafficking, racketeering and loan sharking, typically offering credit to struggling businesses and then gradually taking control of them.
Millions of euros are spent in an effort to disrupt the numerous global networks of the notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia. Recent operations against the syndicate include the pan-European operation Eureka. This led to a raid in early May that saw more than 100 arrests and alleged that mobsters used Chinese money brokers .
In 2021, Italian authorities made domestic progress against the ‘Ndrangheta arresting more than 320 suspected mobsters and associates and convicting 70 of them up to 20 years.
The syndicate is no stranger to violence. They made headlines in 2007, when six men were shot outside a pizzeria in the western city of Duisburg, Germany as part of a long-running war between rival mafia clans.
The notorious San Luca feud between the Pelle-Vottari and Nirta-Strangio families started with a carnival prank in 1991 that prompted a string of killings, including the 2006 Christmas Day execution of the wife of a Strangio family mobster. Notorious mobster Santo Vottari was sentenced in 2017 to 10 years two years after he went on the run for the killings.
The ‘Ndrangheta were also held accountable for the murder of Italian mother Maria Chindamo. The mother of three disappeared from her farm in Calabria in southern Italy in May 2016 after she refused offers to buy her land made by the mafia. It later emerged she was murdered and her body fed to pigs by a ‘Ndrangheta mobster.