After a trial that was huge in length and significance as well as sheer size, more than 200 people connected to Italy's 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate were found guilty on Monday and sentenced to a total of more than 2,200 years in prison. Some 207 people were found guilty and another 131 defendants were acquitted in the tribunal's verdict, which took one hour and 40 minutes to read aloud, the AP reports. The country's biggest organized crime trial since the 1980s began nearly three years ago in a heavily fortified courtroom in the 'Ndrangheta's heartland of Calabria, southern Italy. It focused on the Mancuso clan, one of the group's key families, and their associates, Sky News reports.
The heaviest sentences were the 30-year terms received by crime bosses Saverio Razionale and Domenico Bonavota, reports Reuters. Giancarlo Pittelli, a former lawmaker and regional coordinator for Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, was sentenced to 11 years. The defendants were found guilty Monday of crimes including drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, usury, and membership of a criminal organization. Another 67 were found guilty earlier after choosing fast-track trials. Prosecutors said the crime syndicate grew in power as the influence of the Sicilian Mafia declined. They said it is now active in dozens of countries and has almost complete control over cocaine imports to Europe, the AP reports.
Deputy chief prosecutor Vincenzo Capomolla said the 'Ndrangheta had such deep roots in the region that "there was no aspect of the life of the social economic fabric of the province that was not conditioned by the capacity of the force of intimidation of this so dangerous criminal organization." Antonio Nicaso, an organized crime professor at Queen's University in Canada, tells the New York Times that some younger member of crime families broke the code of silence and cooperated with prosecutors after the first wave of arrests in the case. "Some young men put the community ahead of their blood," Nicaso says. "That is the strongest message of this trial."
This could indeed mark the end of an era, and it seems Italy isn’t going to miss them. The downside, though, is the potential decline in the production of those captivating mob movies we’ve all enjoyed. However, the story of these recent events might just make for an intriguing film itself.