The bunker room at the Rebibbia penitentiary in Rome barely held the hundreds of defendants, lawyers, prosecutors, magistrates and journalists who followed the start of the biggest trial in Italian history against the Calabrian mafia ‘Ndrangheta, last Friday (11) ).
The action is considered historic. There are 452 people tried at the same time: bosses, politicians, Freemasons and businessmen. At the first hearing, the judges took six hours just to read the defendants’ names and the 438 charges against them. Lawyers complained that there was no room for everyone and it was impossible to maintain the social distance imposed by the new coronavirus.
According to a 2014 survey by the research institute Demoskopika, the Calabrian mafia is present in 30 countries, with 400 clans and 60 thousand affiliates. And it would have revenues of 53 billion euros, equivalent to R $ 330 billion or 3.5% of Italian GDP in 2013.
The lawsuit was initiated from an operation, launched in December last year, which involved the simultaneous participation of 2,500 police officers and resulted in the arrest of 330 people across Italy: mayors, former parliamentarians, state deputies, councilors, businessmen, cops and mafia bosses.
Among them is Luigi Mancuso, 55, who already served 19 years in prison from 1993 to 2012. He is the patriarch of the Mancuso clan specializing in drug trafficking and with direct contacts with Colombian cartels and Spanish drug traffickers.
Behind the bars the ex-senator, lawyer and freemason ended Giancarlo Pittelli, of Forza Italy, party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. According to the researchers, Pittelli would be the “connection between two worlds”, the criminal and the political-masonic. He, who defended several mobsters, was “capable of handling the proceedings thanks to his ambiguous contacts and ‘friendship’ relations with the magistrates”. In an interception recorded in his office, he said: “The danger in this city is Gratteri“.
The charges range from mobster association, money laundering, goodwill and extortion to murder, concealment of a corpse and kidnapping. In the 13,500-page complaint, the prosecutor’s office reconstructed the criminal history, relations and business of the ‘Ndrangheta installed in the province of Vibo Valentia, in Calabria. The case files occupy more than 5 million sheets and were transported in armored trucks to be delivered to the accused.
Special room with 600 tables will be built for mega-judgment
The situation, however, is temporary. In late October, the trial will be transferred to another 1,000-person bunker room, which is being built in the city of Lamezia Terme, in southern Italy. The new site has 3,300 m², capacity for 350 defendants, with 600 tables equipped with telephone, computer screens and plugs for lawyers, as well as chairs for journalists and the public.
The transfer to the new court is not just for logistical reasons, but it also has symbolic significance. “We do our utmost to find a suitable solution so that the trial, which promises to be very important in the fight against organized crime, is carried out in full security, but above all in Calabria,” explained Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede.
The trial, dubbed Rinascita-Scott, was born out of the investigations initiated in 2016 and coordinated by Nicola Gratteri, prosecutor of Catanzaro, in the Calabria region. Four other defendants, including ex-senator Giancarlo Pittelli, opted for a different procedural rite and will be tried from 9 November.
“In this process there is a very high percentage of white collars, the so-called gray zone: there are many professionals, men from the infidel institutions that allowed this mafia today to enter the public administration,” he said Gratteri.
Due to the number of defendants and the potential effects on the mafia dome, the case has already been compared to the maxiprocess against the Sicilian mafia Cosa Nostra, which in the late 1980s tried 475 people and was one of the hardest blows to the criminal organization.
PF arrests two members of the Italian mafia on the coast of SP
Mafia is partner of the PCC in the export of drugs from Brazil to Europe
The investigation showed that cocaine was imported from Brazil through companies specialized in the trade of marbles, niobium and manganese and was distributed in several regions of Italy. The purchase of the drug was negotiated by intermediaries, real brokers of cocaine, with Brazilian traffickers. Marijuana and hashish were already imported from Albania and entered Italy through the port of Bari, in the south.
In 2018, an investigation by four European countries and the Federal Police revealed a link between ‘Ndrangheta and the First Capital Command (PCC) for international drug trafficking. From 2016 to 2018, two tons of cocaine, valued at around R $ 1 billion, left the ports of Santos (SP), Salvador, Itajaí (SC) and Rio de Janeiro towards Europe.
In June 2019, two Italians suspected of being the ‘Ndrangheta’s arm in Latin America were arrested in Praia Grande, on the coast of São Paulo. Nicola Assisi and her son, Patrick, were on a list of “dangerous fugitives” drawn up by the Italian police. The mobster group would control 40% of global cocaine shipments, representing the main criminal scheme importing into Europe.