More Than 200 Convicted In Italian Mafia Maxi-Trial Involving ‘Ndrangheta Crime Syndicate | EUROtoday

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LAMEZIA TERME, Italy (AP) — An Italian tribunal on Monday convicted 207 individuals and sentenced them to a mixed 2,100 years in jail on expenses associated to their membership in Italy’s ’ndrangheta organized crime syndicate, one of many world’s strongest, intensive and rich drug-trafficking teams.

It took over an hour and 40 minutes to learn aloud the courtroom’s prolonged verdict, together with the acquittal of 131 different defendants. The drama unfolded in a bunker-stye courtroom within the southern Calabria area, the place the mob group was initially primarily based.

The ’ndrangheta has quietly amassed energy in Italy and overseas because the Sicilian Mafia misplaced affect and now holds nearly a monopoly on cocaine importation in Europe, in line with anti-mafia prosecutors who led the investigation in southern Italy. The group additionally has bases in North and South America and is energetic in Africa, Italian prosecutors keep, and ’ndrangheta figures have been arrested in recent times round Europe and in Brazil and Lebanon.

The defendants had been charged with crimes that embrace drug and arms trafficking, extortion and mafia affiliation, a time period in Italy’s penal code for members of organized crime teams. Others have been charged with performing in complicity with the ’ndrangheta with out truly being a member.

The expenses grew out of an investigation of 12 clans linked to a convicted ‘ndrangheta boss. The central figure, Luigi Mancuso, served 19 years in an Italian prison for his role in leading what investigators allege is one of the ’ndrangheta’s strongest crime households, primarily based within the city of Vibo Valentia.

Vincenzo Capomolla, deputy chief prosecutor of Catanzaro, stated prosecutors’ general case held up with the convictions and confirmed the stranglehold the ’ndrangheta held on Vibo Valentia.

“The infiltration of the criminal organization in the province of Vibo Valentia was so deep-rooted and so widespread, so alarming, so disturbing that I think it can be noted that there was no aspect of the life of the social economic fabric of the province that was not conditioned by the capacity of the force of intimidation of this so dangerous criminal organization,” he stated.

Giuseppe Di Renzo, protection lawyer for a number of of the defendants, nevertheless famous that greater than a 3rd of the unique defendants have been absolutely acquitted, whereas others have been discovered not responsible of some expenses.

He criticized the disparate and enormous variety of defendants, saying they confirmed there was no cohesive thread to the prosecutors’ case. But Catanzaro’s former chief prosecutor who launched the investigation, Nicola Gratteri, stated mafia trials usually must solid vast nets due to the very nature of how the felony syndicates function, infiltrating throughout vast swaths of society.

The trial befell in a specifically constructed high-security bunker. Part of an industrial park in Lamezia Terme, the bunker is so huge that video screens have been anchored to the ceiling so members may view the proceedings.

Based nearly solely on blood ties, the ’ndrangheta was considerably proof against turncoats for many years, however the ranks of these turning state’s proof have gotten extra substantial. In the present trial, they included a relative of Mancuso’s.

Several dozen informants within the case got here from the ’ndrangheta, whereas others previously belonged to Sicily’s Cosa Nostra.

Despite the big variety of defendants, the trial wasn’t Italy’s greatest one involving alleged mobsters.

In 1986, 475 alleged members of the Sicilian Mafia went on trial in a equally constructed bunker in Palermo. The proceedings resulted in additional than 300 convictions and 19 life sentences. That trial helped reveal most of the brutal strategies and murderous methods of the island’s prime mob bosses, together with sensational killings that bloodied the Palermo space throughout years of energy struggles.

In distinction, the trial involving the ’ndrangheta was aimed toward securing convictions and sentences primarily based on alleged acts of collusion amongst mobsters and native politicians, public officers, businessmen and members of secret lodges to point out how deeply rooted the syndicate is in Calabria.

Awash in cocaine trafficking revenues, the ’ndrangheta has devoured up lodges, eating places, pharmacies, automotive dealerships and different companies all through Italy, particularly in Rome and the nation’s prosperous north, felony investigations have revealed.

The shopping for spree unfold throughout Europe because the syndicate sought to launder illicit revenues but in addition to make “clean” cash by operating respectable companies, together with within the tourism and hospitality sectors, investigators alleged.

Zampano reported from Rome.