Italy's biggest mafia
Over 200 gang members of 'Ndrangheta' have been sentenced to a total of more than 2,200 years in prison in one of the biggest mafia trials in Italy's history. More than 300 defendants were on trial since January 2021 as they were accused of being members of the powerful crime group. Ndrangheta was founded in the 18th century in Calabria, southern Italy after which it grew to become one of the world's most powerful and richest criminal organisations.
The mafia group is active in every continent and controls 80% of Europe's cocaine trade. It has an estimated annual turnover of £52 billion.
The trial involved entrepreneurs and politicians and included charges of murder, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering as well as extortion. The three judges overseeing the case had to live in a safe house under police protection as some 67 defendants were found guilty.
Special forces hit Ndrangheta in December 2019 with around 3,000 officers raiding 12 Italian regions and making arrests in Germany, Switzerland and Bulgaria. Millions of euros worth of properties and cash were seized. Over 300 suspects were held in the operation which was named Rinascita-Scott, referring to the rebirth of the region - 'rinascita' in Italian. US special agent Scott W Sieben also helped Italian police discover links between Colombia's cartels and the Ndrangheta.
The chief prosecutor who led the huge investigation into Ndrangheta was Nicola Gratteri, Italy's most famous anti-mafia prosecutor, who has been living under police protection for 34 years. He told Sky News that he would not be intimidated by the many death threats and assassination plots against him when the trial began.
If I were to die tomorrow, “it wouldn't be a problem for me”, he said, adding, "To live a hundred years as a coward is meaningless. Instead, I have lived as a man."
Italy's prime minister Giorgia Meloni said that Italy now has the most effective tactics in fighting organised crime.
"We have an extremely changeable enemy and the fight against the mafia is a cornerstone of this government," she said.