‘Ndrangheta Maxi-Trial

In January 2021 the 'Ndrangheta maxi-trial kicked off in a high security courtroom in the Calabrian city of Lamezia Terme. The trial is expected to take place over a period of two years.

In December 2019, Nicola Gratteri, the chief prosecutor for Catanzaro, coordinated a massive roundup of people on a wide range of charges relating to mafia activities. A year later, in January 2021, the ‘Ndrangheta maxi-trial kicked off in a high security courtroom in the Calabrian city of Lamezia Terme. The trial is expected to take place over a period of two years.

Charges have been brought against 355 people. The main focus is on the Mancuso family, one of the 150 clans in the sprawling ‘Ndrangheta organized crime network. Also facing charges are numerous professionals, including businessmen, accountants and lawyers. Even more disconcerting are the officials who are being charged – a police chief, a former member of the Italian parliament, and the president of the Calabrian mayors’ association.

This is a change of modus operandi because so far the judiciary had focused on foot soldiers, on the basis that they are the ones responsible for most of the violence and visible criminality.

“Until today, judges have generally targeted those who shoot.”

Calabrian journalist Consolato Minniti 

Nicola Gratteri – The Chief Prosecutor

Nicola Gratteri knows that he has a target on his back. He lives in a walled compound under constant guard. He has sometimes compared his life to the reality show Big Brother, describing his life to that of a “man in a cage.” He works long days, sometimes starting at 2am and continuing till 10pm. When he is not working, he likes to spend time in his garden, tending his tomato plants and growing basil.

“But in my mind I’m a free man. I’m free in my choices and free to decide. Free to think and to speak my mind. I can say what others can’t allow themselves to say, because they don’t have their affairs in order. Because they can be blackmailed. And they are afraid. Because they’re cowards.”

Nicola Gratteri

The prosecutor and his team have gone through years of painstaking work to get to this point. There is still a long way to go – the ‘Ndrangheta Maxi-Trial is expected to take at least two years. After that, a long and winding appeal process will unfold, but Gratteri is positive that in the end, justice will prevail.

“It is always worth doing what you believe in. Sacrifices are made if you believe that you are on the right side and that you are doing something useful to the community. Therefore it is never wasted time and we are always convinced that it was worth it.”

Nicola Gratteri

The ‘Ndrangheta Maxi-Trial Indictment

The 351-page indictment details several charges. These include murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, loan sharking, extortion, disclosure of state secrets, corruption and abuse of office.

“They waited for them in Piazza Morelli, invited them to eat ricotta at the farm. … and then they killed, burned and melted them..”

Andrea Mantella, pentito

The Mancusos are accused of using intimidation tactics to coerce business owners to pay the pizzo (protection money). There are cases where they tried to force their target to sell their property at rock bottom prices. In others they wanted to strongarm businesses to switch to mafia suppliers. If their victims resisted, they upped the ante. The pentiti spoke of placing dead puppies, dolphins or even decapitated goat heads on doorsteps. If that did not work, they tried physical violence, burning cars, throwing molotov cocktails through windows, or even assassination attempts.

The Mancuso boss, Luigi Mancuso, 67, also known as the “the Uncle”, and ex-senator Giancarlo Pittelli, 68, who is accused of being his white-collar fixer, will face longer court trials at a later date.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of these affiliate links, the company compensates us. At no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission, which helps us run this blog and keep our in-depth content free of charge for all our readers.