“Inside the World of the ‘Ndrangheta”
“By Andreas Ulrich
“Encounters with the Calabrian Mafia
“The shadowy Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta, has become one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the Western world through its dominance of the European cocaine trade. For the first time, local syndicate bosses described their business model to SPIEGEL. It’s a mixture of entrepreneurial talent, skillful management and deadly ruthlessness….
“‘My German is better than my Italian,’ admits Carlo, who has been living in Germany for 30 years. He is wearing a black shirt, black trousers and black loafers — elegant Italian products, all made of high-quality materials. He was baptized at 18, he says.
“He is referring to the secret ritual in which he was accepted into the ‘onorata società,’ or ‘honored society,’ as the ‘Ndrangheta calls itself. His uncle brought him into the organization. This is often the case in such organizations, where cohesion is based on kinship and there are few traitors as a result….
“In its early days, the organization was little more than a loose collection of rural clans. Their activities centered around controlling their villages, protection money, hold-ups and public contracts….
“The experts with Germany’s BKA have studied the current structure of the ‘Ndrangheta. According to the BKA report, the syndicate is “no longer structured horizontally in individual family clans, but, like the Cosa Nostra, in the form of a pyramid.” In the province of Reggio Calabria, for example, the ‘Ndrangheta has divided itself into three so-called mandamenti. A ‘provincial commission,’ which rules over the entire organization, elects a ‘capo crimine,’ or chairman, each year….
“Although the ‘Ndrangheta operates worldwide, all important decisions are made in Calabria. In an era of globalization, the drug trade remains relatively anachronistic. Cocaine from South America arrives in southern Italy before it is distributed across the European continent. The clans feel safe on their home turf, which they treat as their territory….
“The Piromalli-Molé are among the most powerful ‘Ndrangheta clans in the region around Gioia Tauro. They are wholesalers in the international cocaine business. They have family connections in South America, and they have their agents in Germany, including people like Carlo….
“To this day, strategic alliances are formed between families in the ‘Ndrangheta through marriage….
“”Gratteri is the anti-mafia prosecutor in Reggio Calabria. The prosecutor believes that the weakness of the state is also the strength of the ‘Ndrangheta. The mob bosses provide jobs, help people sort out problems with the government bureaucracy and recruit their young blood from the army of the unemployed and the hopeless. Gratteri also has no illusions about the police, which he says is already infiltrated by the ‘Ndrangheta, because of close family ties.“
previously: la famiglia
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