Why the Ndrangheta is one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world? Analyze their illegal activities that last for more than a century.
One can regard the Sicilian Mafia Cosa Nostra as the most renowned Italian criminal group. However, it is no longer considered the most powerful and influential due to the acts of desertion and a series of high-profile arrests. Instead, the Ndrangheta as the new closed and secretive group has appeared in the Southern Calabria and, in fact, became the main controller of the drug trade on the European continent. The criminal organization has started its illegal activity as the local mafia-type group and, in the course of time, spread throughout the continent. The Ndrangheta has rapidly penetrated Piedmont and Lombardy as the Italian financial heartlands, which no organized crime group did. The mafia-type organization has occupied a dominant position in the transatlantic drug trade, closely cooperating with Mexican and Colombian Mafiosi. Recently, the Ndrangheta has considerably globalized and became the most terrifying Italian criminal organization alongside the Camorra, Cosa Nostra and Sacra Corona Unita that specialize in drug trafficking and threatening the entire Europe as well as the whole world.
Blood-bound and mysterious crimes rooted in Calabria attract the attention of lawmakers and prosecutors. It was not Sicily but Calabria that has put the country at the core of the world cocaine market in the last two decades. Recent research (Spolar, 2008) has described the Ndrangheta as ruthless Calabrian mafia in Italy’s economy and pervasive exporter of criminal and illicit business that spans different continents.
The Ndrangheta monitors most of cocaine traffic on the international level and has almost eighty percent monopoly on Europe’s import of the white powder. The Ndrangheta as well as any other giant multinational corporation or a small country in Europe has financial strength. Although the Calabrian criminal organization controls the complex chain of money laundering, it gets its power from archaic operations. It is located in the poorest region of Italy far from Milan and Rome. All the companies and firms operating in this region have to pay the mafia’s tax. If they agree to pay this price, then it will bring them relative calm.
Every month, godfathers who are hiding in the mountain villages purchase tons of white powder from traffickers, who may operate almost thousands of miles away, for example, in South America. Citizens who live and companies which operate in the mafia districts are exploited by the mobsters more than ever nowadays. According to Siegel and Nelen (2008), people and firms are usually called to compensate failed earnings from illicit trade and smuggling of drugs.
The question number one that bothers Italian longest-running trials concerns the ones who control the Ndrangheta since they await the completion of the investigation after three years. The investigation named “Operation Goal” was carried out in 2010 and resulted in more than forty arrests. Among the accused individuals were the members of the famous families from Reggio di Calabria. Apparently, the mafia-type organization is systematically engaged in racketeering. They often give bribes to officials and penetrate politics. In the case bosses-Mafiosi successfully stand in the local elections, they can threaten, wound and even kill politicians (Varese, 2006).
Despite being not so renowned overseas as Cosa Nostra and having been deemed more rural in comparison with other organizations, the Ndrangheta deservedly became the most influential Italian crime syndicate in the 2000s. Although the Ndrangheta is closely connected with the Sicilian Mafia, it functions independently from Sicilians. However, they are in contact with each other because of the geographical closeness as well as shared language and culture. The American diplomat once estimated that trafficking of drugs, extortion and money laundering carried out by the Ndrangheta accounted for three percent of Italian Gross Domestic Product (“US saw mafia-ridden Italian region as failed state, according to WikiLeaks cable”, 2011). Since the fifties, mobsters have spread their illegal activities toward the Italian north and worldwide. In fact, revenue of the most powerful criminal organization is about seventy billion dollars annually (Figueira, 2012).
Ndrangheta’s brutality and cruelty are shocking. The boss was arrested for the murder of an opponent whom he fed to hungry pigs alive. The Calabrian branch of the mafia controls some parts of Italy, and it is rapidly spreading throughout the world. Mobsters also deal with people trafficking, theft, kidnapping, counterfeiting, and fraud. Despite being located in Calabria, the Ndrangheta controls the building of firms, clubs, malls, and banking institutions throughout Italy. People can compare this organization with an octopus since wherever there is money one will undoubtedly discover its tentacles.
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The Italian authorities do not mince words, claiming in official reports that the Ndrangheta is one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. The membership in this mafia-type group is well-known only to its fellows and carefully vetted policymakers, allegedly affiliated through freemasonry. Nowadays the Ndrangheta is invisible and unnoticed across the world. According to Paoli (2003), this civilian mafia-type group has been described as the largest illicit association of Italy. Pursued by police, the Ndranghetisti established an unbelievable secret network of places to hide under the houses. The organization’s influence is especially strong in the USA, European continent, Canada and Australia. Each member of the invisible Ndrangheta is linked to huge incomes laundering. However, it remains unclear whether they are the agents and masters of these mobsters. Recently, the Calabrian police have demonstrated great results against the criminal organization.
The influential and powerful organized crime group of Italy is no longer the Sicilian Cosa Nostra but the shadowy Mafia from Calabria, the Ndrangheta. People live in the world full of supergrasses and spy planes as well as the world of fear, where they simply cannot trust the Italian government to defeat organized crime and mafia. The Ndrangheta is often described as the symbol of entrenchment that enables bosses maintain control over the inhabitants and territory. Nowadays the Ndrangheta is the strong international crime syndicate that continues its illicit activities by moving billions of dollars around the world.