Italy: ‘Ndrangheta Initiation Ritual Exposed

Published: 20 November 2014


Police in Italy have arrested 40 suspected gangsters after capturing unprecedented hidden-camera footage of the ‘Ndrangheta’s infamous organized crime initiation ceremony.

Milan prosecutor Ilda Boccassini claimed that the footage, part of a two-year investigation, was the only police video of the secretive ritual, according to The Guardian.

“For the first time we heard it from the voice of [organized criminals],” she said of the footage, believed to show ‘Ndrangheta members being sworn into an elite group known as La Santa. One recruit was only 17.

“Today, from now on, you will be your own judges!” proclaims the ritual’s master of ceremonies. He calls on the huddled group of figures to promise to kill themselves should they make a mistake, either by taking cyanide or using a gun. “There must always be a bullet reserved; one for you,” he cautions.

The Operation Insubria arrests, performed on Tuesday by the Special Operations Group of the Italian military police, were on charges of Mafia association, extortion and illegal arms possession, reports Il Tempo. The arrests were mainly in the cities of Milan, Como and Lecco in the northern region of Lombardy, but some took place in Veneto and Sicily.

Although this operation was based in northern Italy, the ‘Ndrangheta is a Mafia-type organization based in Calabria, in the southern tip of the country.

At a press conference given after the raids, Boccassini recounted the story of a recording from July 2013 where a boss complained that “having a cell phone in your pocket is like having a policeman in your pocket,” according to La Repubblica. He even went on to complain about the prosecutor Boccassini herself, for recording a previous meeting.

According to Europol’s June 2013 Threat Assessment on Italian Organized Crime, the ‘Ndrangheta was once seen as a rural, backward organization, but is now recognized as a major threat with “a dominant position on the European cocaine market” as well as involvement in kidnapping and illegal waste dumping. Laundering money through legitimate businesses has enabled the ‘Ndrangheta has achieved a position of “quasi-monopoly” in sectors such as construction, real estate and transportation, according to Europol. The ‘Ndrangheta is estimated by Transcrime to have an annual revenue of US$ 4.38 billion, primarily through drug trafficking, which places them second only to the Camorra among Italian organized crime groups.