An Italian court convicted 207 people and sentenced them to a total of 2,100 years in prison on charges related to their membership in the Italian organized crime syndicate 'Ndrangheta. The process lasted three years. The 'Ndrangheta is considered one of the most powerful criminal groups in the country involved in the illicit trafficking of prohibited funds.
For more than an hour and a half, the president of the Italian court of southern Vibo Valentia, Brigida Cavasino, read out the names of the perpetrators in the case of involvement in the mafia and their sentences, which ranged from 30 years to several months. Defendants in prisons across the country attended hearings online via video link. There were also acquittals against 131 people. According to France 24, the courtroom is located in the region where the criminal organization was originally based.
The trial took place in a specially built high-security bunker. More than 20 video screens were attached to the ceiling so participants could watch the action. The case is named Rinascita Scott after US Special Agent Scott W. Sieben, who was credited with uncovering connections between the Colombian cartels and Nrangeta.
Prosecutors say the 'Ndrangheta has quietly increased its influence in Italy and abroad as the Sicilian mafia has lost influence. According to Europol, the mafia in southern Italy has a monopoly on the European trade in illegal substances.
The defendants were charged with crimes that include drug and weapons trafficking, extortion and association with the mafia, a term used in Italy's criminal code for members of organized crime groups.
Prosecutors previously sought convictions against 322 Mafia members and their white-collar associates, according to court records, according to CNN. Among those attending the hearing were alleged associates of the mob boss known as "The Uncle," who go by a variety of nicknames, including "Wolf," "Fatty," "Sweetie," "Blondie," "Kid" and "Squeezer."
The charges stem from an investigation into 12 clans linked to convicted 'Ndrangheta boss Luigi Mancuso. He was removed from the list of defendants in 2022 to be tried separately. Investigators say he is a member of one of the group's most powerful crime families.
Catanzaro's deputy chief prosecutor, Vincenzo Capomolla, stressed in his speech that they underestimated how much the criminal group "penetrated so deeply into the provinces of the country that there was not a single aspect of the socio-economic structure that operated without fear of the police."
Defense lawyer for several of the defendants, Giuseppe Di Renzo, noted that more than a third of the original defendants were fully acquitted, while others were found not guilty of some charges.
Several dozen informants in the case came from the 'Ndrangheta, while others previously belonged to the Sicilian group Cosa Nostra.
Despite the large number of defendants, the trial is not considered the largest in Italy involving alleged gangsters, reports the British edition of the Daily Mail.
In 1986, 475 alleged members of the Sicilian Mafia were put on trial in a similar security bunker in Palermo. The trial resulted in more than 300 convictions and 19 life sentences.
This trial helped expose many of the brutal methods and murderous strategies of the island's top mafia bosses.
The 'Ndrangheta trial differs from the previous high-profile case in that it was aimed at securing convictions. The goal of the prosecutors was to prove the fact of collusion between the bandits and local politicians, government officials, businessmen and to show how deeply rooted the syndicate was in the province.
The 'Ndrangheta network, as the investigation found, absorbed hotels, restaurants, pharmacies, car dealerships and other businesses throughout Italy, especially in Rome and the wealthy north of the country. Taking a closer look at the income from the import of illegal substances, a wave of purchases spread throughout Europe. Such actions can be explained by the fact that the syndicate sought not only to invest illegal proceeds, but also to earn “clean” money by conducting legitimate business, including in the field of tourism and hotel business.