In previous articles we talked about the Sicilian mafia, the clans of the American Cosa Nostra, the Campanian Camorra. This one will tell about the criminal community of Calabria - Ndrangheta ('Ndrangheta).
Calabria and Calabrians
In the more developed regions of northern Italy, the reputation of Calabria and its inhabitants is low. Back in the middle of the twentieth century, British journalist Henry Morton wrote:
“In Lombardy and Tuscany, people still shudder at the very mention of Calabria. They would rather spend their holidays in the Congo than in this Italian region. "
The differences between North and South of Italy are still very large - in mentality, lifestyle, per capita income. And even purely outwardly, the natives of Calabria can hardly be confused with the northerners from Florence or Milan.
Calabria, like Campania, Puglia and Basilicata, was part of the Kingdom of Naples, and later (since 1816) - the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
The name of this historical the region comes from the Greek words kalon brion and means "fertile land". It is separated from Sicily by the narrow Strait of Messina, the minimum width of which is only 3,2 km.
In the Middle Ages, the aristocracy in Calabria was of Spanish (more precisely, Aragonese) origin. The aristocrats did not particularly stand on ceremony with the local Italians, so some of the men fled to the forests and mountains, becoming Brigante. Literally translated, this word means "robber", but it did not carry an unambiguous negative connotation: the common people often idealized and romanticized the "briganti", presenting them as fighters against the injustice of greedy noble gentlemen. Among the Brigante, the picciotteria gangs stood out, whose members were already perceived by everyone as real bandits. Some believe that it was from them that the Ndrangheta later grew.
The birthplace of this criminal community is considered the region closest to Sicily - Reggio di Calabrio.
Some researchers believe that the "big brothers" of the Sicilian mafia influenced the formation of organized crime in Calabria. Some moved here voluntarily, others were exiled to the mainland.
On the map of 1595, the territory of the Kingdom of Naples, roughly coinciding with the modern area of Reggio di Calabrio, is designated as Andragathia Regio ("Androgatia"). The connection between the words Andragathia and 'Ndrangheta is visible to the naked eye.
Some believe that the name Andragathia was derived from the Greek word andragatos, meaning "brave." This is quite a "working" version, since in ancient times this area was part of the "Magna Graecia". Here was the famous city of Croton (Crotone), which was famous for its wrestlers. In Hellas then they said that “the last of the Crotons - the first of the rest of the Greeks", And there was a saying"healthier than croton". In this city he founded the famous school of Pythagoras, about whom Aristotle said that at first he “studied science and numbers, and later became a miracle worker».
The rich Sybaris was also located here, the inhabitants of which (the Sybarites) became famous for their love of luxury and all kinds of pleasures.
But on the other hand, 'ndrina is a family, and "Androgacy" can be "The Land of Families." This version is less romantic, but it seems more believable.
It is from ndrin that Ndrangheta consists, which emphasizes the family character of this criminal organization. There are currently 73 ndrins operating in Reggio di Calabrio, and 136 of them throughout Calabria.
Exactly when the stable Calabrian crime families emerged is not known for certain. Reliable indications of the existence of the Ndrangheta in written sources are found only since 1897. Even at the trial of 1890, the members of the gang of the city of Palmi in official documents are called ... Camorrists. Although it is clear that they had nothing to do with the Campaign.
Organizational structure of the Calabrian Ndrangheta
The head of the Calabrian 'ndrina bears the title of capobastone. The sons of the members of these "families" are called Giovane d'onore ("boy of honor" or something like that) and are accepted into the clan by birthright. The rite of passage is traditionally held when they turn 14. Outsiders who want to get into the "family" are Contrasto onorato (people who must "earn a contract"): the probationary period can range from several months to two years.
The person accepted into the family undergoes a special rite: he pierces his finger, moistens the icon with the image of the Archangel Michael with his blood and takes an oath:
"If I betray, then let me be burned like this saint."
(From the article Old Sicilian Mafia you must remember that this archangel is the patron saint of the Ndrangheta).
In the case of a marriage between members of different families, the ndrins were united into one. In addition, such marriages were often arranged with the aim of ending the "faida" - a war between two clans. Faids could last for years, claiming dozens and sometimes hundreds of lives.
Often the "families" of the Ndrangheta united on a territorial basis, forming a "Territory" (locale), which had a common cash desk and an accountant-bookkeeper.
The locale's assistants are the capo crimine (the head of the rank-and-file "militants" - Picciotto d'onore) and the mastro di giornata (the "master of the day" who liaises between the "families" and coordinates their actions). And for Sgarrista ("cunning") is assigned the duty of collecting "tribute". For special merit, a member of the clan receives the title of Santista ("saint"), which gives him special respect and certain privileges. This title appeared only in the late 60s. XX century on the initiative of Girolamo Pyromalli (head of the ndrina from the city of Joya Tauro). In the 70s. In the twentieth century, an attempt was even made to unite the Santista of different clans into one structure - La Santa: it was supposed to engage in arbitration and mediate conflict situations. According to the original plan, the number of "saints" should not have exceeded 33, but now this rule is not observed. Candidates for "saints" are called "Santis of Purgatory" (Santa del Purgatorio). According to the journalist Antonio Nikas, who specializes in the problems of organized crime, the rite of passage goes like this. The candidate appears before three active Santists who symbolize the heroes of the Italian national liberation movement - Garibaldi, Mazzini and Lamarmor. He pierces three fingers so that blood gets on the image of the Archangel Michael and states that he is looking for “honor, loyalty and blood". After that, they announce that the Sun has now become his father, the Moon is the mother, and he himself is now their messenger.
Antonio Pelle, who held the high rank of Vangelo o Vangelista ("evangelist"), was chosen as the head of "Santa". He never went to school and began his career in the "criminal business" from the very bottom.
Even above the "evangelists" are Quintino, Trequartino and, finally, Padrino.
Like the Campanian Camorra, the Ndrangheta does not have a general leadership, breaking up into separate clans - this is the very circumstance that distinguishes these criminal groups from the "real" Sicilian mafia.
For the Camorra and the Mafia, hostile relations have long been characteristic, but the members of the Ndrangheta managed to establish friendly relations with both. There have been cases when men of Calabrian "families" were simultaneously members of some other clan - Sicilian or Campanian.
Many have heard of the struggle that was fought with the Sicilian mafia in Italy under Mussolini. In 1935, by order of the Duce, a three-month operation was carried out against the Calabrian Ndrins, but the police did not achieve much success then. It was a matter of the isolation and fragmentation of the Calabrian clans: the defeat of one "family" did not in the least affect the neighboring one.
Until the 1960s, the Ndrangheta was largely a regional criminal organization, with little influence over neighboring areas. Everything changed with the beginning of the construction of the railway to Naples and the so-called "Highway of the Sun" to Salerno: the Calabrian "families" then managed to switch to themselves part of the federal funds allocated by Rome and became very rich on contracts. At the same time, a boom in cigarette smuggling began, in which the ndrins also took part with pleasure. Looking at the neighbors, they began to try to kidnap people and demand a ransom for them. In 1973, even the grandson of the wealthy American oil businessman Getty was kidnapped. To speed up the process of obtaining the ransom, the grandfather was sent the ear of the grandson. The peak of this kind of crime was in 1975, when 63 abductions were recorded, including a one month old baby. The Barbaro clan was especially successful in such matters. The Plati commune controlled by him even received the unofficial name "The Cradle of Abductions".
In the 90s, Ndrangheta became involved in the international drug smuggling and marketing business. They started with heroin, but then they forged ties with Colombian drug cartels and began to work with cocaine. Currently, the Calabrian clans account for up to 80% of all cocaine shipments to Europe.
Giuseppe Morabito "rose" to the organization of drug trafficking and gained great influence. After his arrest, the drug traffic began to control Pasquale Condello, who managed to hide for a long time, but he was also arrested in 2008.
The arrest of Pasquale Condello, February 2008
Then came Roberto Pannunzi, a native of the Macri clan, who was called the "Italian Pablo Escobar". After the collapse of the "Medellin Cartel", he began to cooperate with smaller Colombian manufacturers and even with the terrorist group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, headed for a long time by Salvatore Mancuso, who came from a family of Italian immigrants. And then Pannunzi forged ties with the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, about which one of its founders, Arturo Desena, said:
“The most important thing for us is money, honor and respect. We are engaged in drug trafficking and we earnestly ask the Mexican and US authorities not to interfere with our business. You cannot destroy us for one reason - Los Zetas knows everything about the work of the police and special services, but the secret services and the police know nothing about the work of Los Zetas. "
The emblem of the Los Zetas drug cartel on one of the hills near Naples
War with Rome
For many years, the city of Reggio was the capital of Calabria. Sometimes it is called like this whole area - Reggio di Calabrio. It should be reminded that it is the homeland and traditional fiefdom of the Ndrangheta. In 1970, the Italian authorities decided to move the capital of Calabria to Catanzaro. This decision was supported by the oppositional Communist Party of Italy. But they forgot to ask the opinion of the inhabitants of Reggio, and they reacted sharply to this decision.
On July 15, an uprising began in the former capital, which lasted until February 1971.
The social basis of this uprising proved to be extremely variegated. Members of the local ndrins also joined this unexpected "revolution". The anarchists also willingly joined in, who, in general, did not care where and for what reason they burned cars and smashed windows. Other allies of the rebels were the neo-fascist organizations "National Avant-garde" and "Italian Social Movement" (ISD) pursuing their goals. Moreover, even the local archbishop Giovanni Ferro supported the rebels.
The leader of the Popular Front, Junio Valerio Shipione Borghese, also showed interest in the uprising.
Married to the great-great-granddaughter of the Russian Emperor Alexander I, Daria Olsufieva, the prince was a naval officer and met the beginning of World War II as a submarine commander. It was he who owns the idea of creating flotilla assault weapons, armed with torpedoes controlled by combat swimmers. In the Italian navy, he was known by the nickname "Black Prince", but sometimes he was also called "the prince of frogs." Some researchers explain the death of the battleship "Novorossiysk" on the roadstead of Sevastopol on October 29, 1955 by a sabotage organized by Borghese. This ship was received by the USSR on account of reparations, earlier it was called "Giulio Cesare".
According to one version, Borghese, taking advantage of the situation, decided to seize power in the country.
On December 8, 1970, Popular Front militants occupied the lobby of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. However, the leaders led by Borghese did not come to the putsch (just like Prince Sergei Trubetskoy on Senate Square in December 1825). Borghese eventually fled to Spain, where he died in 1974. In 1972, director Mario Monicelli even shot the satirical film We Want Colonels, the protagonist of which was named Tritoni (more than a transparent allusion to the "Prince of the Frog" Borghese). And then the strangeness began: in 1984, the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation suddenly ruled that there was no attempt at a coup d'état in December 1974.
But back to Calabria, where from July to October 1970 there were 14 terrorist attacks using explosives, and attacks on prefectures and police stations became commonplace, their number reached several dozen.
The frightened authorities of Rome promised to increase funding for the rebellious province and, most importantly, billions of dollars in investments in the construction of new enterprises, reconstruction of old ones and in infrastructure. The bosses of the Ndrangheta, hoping to profit from government orders, have left the game. Against this background, they even arranged a compromise with the division of capital functions between Catanzaro and Reggio di Calabrio (the regional council of Calabria and the regional court of appeal remained in the old capital). They did not know that after three years their clans, who had not divided the contracts for the reconstruction of the port of Joya Tauro, would fight in the First Ndrangheta War, which we will talk about in the next article.
The neo-fascists, now regarded as "defenders of the interests of the oppressed South," significantly improved their positions in the 1972 elections, with the ISD receiving 2,9 million votes. The leader of the uprising and a member of this party, Ciccio Franco became a senator.
"Business projects" of the Calabrian Ndrangheta
With the inclusion of Ndrangheta in the international drug trade system, "real money" came to this criminal community. As a result, it is the Ndrangheta who now dominates Italy, squeezing out even the famous Sicilian mafia. Prosecutor Mario Venditi assesses the situation as follows:
"Ndrangheta launders money as skillfully as she once was just as deftly wielding a sawed-off shotgun."
Currently, the drug trade brings Calabrian "families" at least 20 to 24 billion dollars a year, in this direction they actively cooperate with Albanian criminal groups (they were described in the article Albanian crime clans outside Albania).
Do not disdain the Calabrian "dons" and trade weapons, smuggling of radioactive materials, organization of illegal migration to Italy and the EU countries. Do not forget about investments in real estate, services and retail, restaurant and tourism.
In the 13,3st century, the Ndrangheta clans are actively lobbying for the construction of green energy facilities. The fact is that the size of the subsidy for "green" kilowatt / hour in Italy ranges from 27,4 to 8 euro cents, depending on the region. And subsidies for solar energy alone (less than 10% of all electricity generated in Italy) amount to 86 billion euros per year. And there is also subsidized wind power, geothermal power plants and stations for generating electricity from solid household waste. Moreover, 6% of green energy facilities are located in the south of the country: most of them are in Puglia, but there are many in Calabria. And Ndrangheta makes money not only from construction, but also from the operation of these facilities: the firms she controls are shareholders of electric companies. Construction organizations associated with Ndrangheta have built a huge number of wind generators, around which environmentalists have carefully cut down forests so that nearby trees do not interfere with the wind from turning the blades. By the way, little is said about this, but on the ground around each such windmill lie the corpses of birds chopped up by the "wings" of these terrible "mills" (experts of the Spanish Ornithological Society, for example, calculated that the wind generators of this country annually kill from 18 to XNUMX million birds and bats). It is also proven that the Ndrangheta made huge money from the construction of large power plants in Crotone and Catanzaro, since all the contractors were associated with various Calabrian clans.
According to experts, in 2007 the total turnover of the Ndrangheta clans exceeded 43 billion euros. Of these, more than 27 billion was "earned" from the drug trade, the arms trade brought an estimated 3 billion euros, a little less - the organization of illegal migration and control over prostitution. Through extortion, the Calabrian Ndrins received about 5 billion euros. But the second item of income after the drug trade was precisely legal activity: over 5,7 billion euros were brought by various commercial enterprises.
The German Institute for Demoskopita (Demoskopita) estimated that in 2013 the combined annual turnover of all Ndrangheta “families” was 53 billion euros (compared to 2007, an increase of 10 billion), which is higher than Deutsche Bank and McDonald's combined.
In the next article we will talk about the wars of the Calabrian clans, their activities outside Italy.