Italy: Historic Maxi Trial Convicts 200+ Linked to 'Ndrangheta Mafia

Published: 27 November 2023

Vibo Valentia Wikigita Calabria 2022 f03The town of Vibo Valentia, in Calabria. (Photo: Marco Chemello, Wikimedia, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

Italy has convicted 207 people who have close connections to the infamous 'Ndrangheta mafia clan from Calabria, in a historic maxi trial that concluded on Nov. 20. Those convicted included politicians and members of law enforcement.

The trial, initiated by the Catanzaro Anti-Mafia District Directorate against the Vibonese (from Vibo Valentia, Calabria) 'Ndrangheta and its affiliates, was held in a specially built bunker room in the city of Lamezia Terme, Italy.

The trial involved 338 people facing more than 400 charges, including mafia association, extortion, money laundering, illegal possession of weapons, and drug trafficking, as reported by the Italian newspaper ANSA (Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Association). According to Euronews, many of the defendants received heavy sentences. The AP reported that 131 of the accused were acquitted.

The prosecution was led by former Catanzaro prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who is now the Naples prosecutor and is known for his long fight against 'Ndrangheta.

The investigation, which began in 2019, led to the arrests of such prominent figures as lawyer and former Italian parliamentarian Giancarlo Pittelli, who was sentenced to 11 years, and Giorgio Naselli, a former Carabiniere (Italian police force) lieutenant colonel, who received two years and six months.

According to Euronews, others convicted included the former commander of the Vibo Valentia municipal police force, Filippo Nesci, who was sentenced to four years; and lawyer Francesco Stilo, 14 years. Michele Marinaro, a former marshal with the Anti-Mafia Investigation Division, was sentenced to 10 years.

Other sentences include five years and six months for former Vibo Carabinieri operations department's select deputy Antonio Ventura and a year and six months for former regional councilor Pietro Giamborino.

The trial revealed the extensive influence of the Vibonese 'Ndrangheta and its internal conflicts, which have led to a wave of violence and numerous casualties. The investigation also shed light on the involvement of Masonic lodges in Vibo Valentia, which had established connections with the Mancuso clan, a prominent 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate, said ANSA.

The trial was one of the largest ever held of organized crime in Italy, involving more than 400 lawyers and 900 witnesses.

“It has a dominant position on the European cocaine market due to excellent relations with the producers [and] reproduces abroad perfect copies of its operational structures. [...] [It] has repeatedly proven its skill in infiltrating political and economic environments and its remarkable capacity for corruption.”