The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta (which is derived from the Greek word andragathía, for heroism and virtue) is the most powerful organized crime organization in Italy, with an approximate 6000 - 7000 members nationally, and an additional 3000 outside of Italy. Move over, Cosa Nostra In western media, the 'Ndrangheta is commonly refereed to as the "Mafia" or "Cosa Nostra" however these groups are separate entities and operate independently of one another. Ndrangheta article on Wikipedia While the two groups do operate independently, there is contact between the Sicilians and 'Ndrangheta due to their geographical proximity. Because of their close ties with Latin American drug traffickers, Italian officials estimate that 80% of all cocaine in Europe is smuggled in by the 'Ndrangheta. Move over, Cosa Nostra
Unlike most other mafia organizations, which have a pyramidal system of bosses, 'Ndrangheta groups are based on blood families (called 'Ndrine). There are anywhere from 50 to 200 of these families in Italy, totaling between 6,000 and 7,000 members. The organization of the 'Ndrangheta has been likened to a loose federation, a group that will sometimes unite, when there is a need, but mostly operates independently from one another. Move over, Cosa Nostra
According to Italian DIA (Direzione Investigativa Antimafia) and Guardia di Finanza (Italian Financial Police and Customs Police) 'Ndrangheta is now one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world'. Recently, the 'Ndrangheta have been trying to legitimize their operations to some degree, with over 2/3 of their profits being used to purchase banks, factories, coffee shops, restaurants, night clubs, luxury boutiques, supermarkets, hotels and other legitimate businesses. Mafiosi move north to take over the shops and cafes of Milan The main operations of the 'Ndrangheta are:
- Cocaine Trafficking
- Firearms Trafficking
- Smuggling of unlicensed tobacco products
- Labor Racketeering
- Large scale money laundering
- Legitimate businesses
'Ndrangheta operates throughout Italy as well as in numerous other countries, including:
The first mention of 'Ndrangheta wasn't until Italian Unification in 1861. This was a period of upheaval in southern Italy, as the rich aristocrats from the North came south to buy up factories and land. Once land was taken over by the rich northerners, the common people were heavily taxed, and it is believed, that as a way to get back at the rich, the 'Ndrangheta was formed. There original goals were to get even with the rich northerners by robbing and stealing from them. 'Ndrangheta article from Wikipedia
Until the mid 1970's the 'Ndrangheta only operated in Calabria and the surrounding areas. This was mainly due to the fact that the Sicilian Cosa Nostra controlled the Italian underworld, and the 'Ndrangheta hadn't become heavily involved the global narcotics trade.
In 1975, a gang-war broke out between rival factions of the 'Ndrangheta, the older generations and upstart, young generation. The older generation prefered to keep the organization local and stay out of the international drug trade, whereas the younger members wanted to expand into the drug trade, as well as in the international trade of firearms, white collar crime and racketeering. After two bloody wars, in which more than 1,000 people were killed History of Ndrangheta from Wikipedia, the younger factions took control of the organization and began expanding their operations.
- Move over, Cosa Nostra, The Guardian, 8 June 2006
- Crisis among the "Men of Honor", interview with Letizia Paoli, Max Planck Research, February 2004
- Organized Crime in Canada: A Quarterly Summary. http://www.yorku.ca/nathanson/CurrentEvents/2005_Q2.htm#Italian