The Chicago Syndicate: Ndrangheta

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Showing posts with label Ndrangheta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ndrangheta. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

More than 200 Reputed Members or Associates of the 'Ndrangheta, Italy’s Most Powerful and Richest Crime Syndicate, were Convicted in the Country’s Largest Mafia Trial in Decades.

Italy’s largest mafia trial in decades concluded yesterday with the conviction of more than 200 people accused of being part of, or collaborating with, the country’s most powerful and richest crime syndicate, the ‘Ndrangheta.

Former law-enforcement officials, politicians and businessmen were found guilty of offenses related to organized crime, including drug smuggling, money laundering and extortion, after an almost three-year trial.
The 3 judge panel announce the verdicts in the 'Ndrangheta Mafia Trial

The verdicts mark a turning point in the pursuit by Italian authorities of the ‘Ndrangheta, which—though lower-profile than the Sicilian mafia—has built itself into one of the world’s most formidable drug-trafficking syndicates. The group controls over 80% of Europe’s cocaine trade and its interests extend to the Americas, Africa and Australia, according to prosecutors, who estimate its annual revenue to be $55 billion.

Italian prosecutors have jailed important members of the Sicilian mafia since the 1990s, but have until recently had little success infiltrating the ‘Ndrangheta, which is largely made up of decentralized families with deep loyalties and no obvious leading clan.

Ahead of the trial, prosecutors said that the deliberate targeting of the group’s leadership was crucial to hampering their operations. Prosecutors also sought to expose how the group has penetrated politics and business. Still, with an estimated membership of more than 20,000 people, elimination of the criminal network remains an elusive goal.

Earlier this year in a separate operation, police in Italy, Germany and Belgium arrested around 200 people linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, following an investigation that spanned 10 countries. Investigators on that case said they confiscated 23 tons of cocaine with an estimated retail value of around €2.5 billion, equivalent to $2.7 billion. Italian police said they expect those arrests to disrupt the group’s activities in Europe temporarily.

In the court case that ended Monday, more than 320 people stood trial in a specially built fortified bunker-style courtroom in Calabria, the southern Italian region where the ‘Ndrangheta is based. The three presiding judges stayed in a safe house under police protection while they deliberated their verdicts over the past month. Sentences ranged from 10 months to 30 years and can be appealed.

The trial included thousands of hours of testimony and more than 50 former mafiosi who testified for the prosecution.

In one of the most high-profile convictions, the judges handed an 11-year prison sentence for mafia collusion to Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and member of the Forza Italia political party founded by Silvio Berlusconi, the flamboyant former prime minister who died earlier this year. Prosecutors had sought a 17-year sentence, describing Pittelli as one of the key links between the ‘Ndrangheta and the world of politics. Pittelli and his lawyers couldn’t be reached to comment.

Domenico Bonavota, who received a maximum 30-year prison sentence, told the court during the trial that he was “disgusted by the ‘Ndrangheta” and not a member. “I’m not part of any organized crime group,” he said. Prosecutors accused him of having reached a level within the organization known as “gospel.” Bonavota said in court that the only gospel he knew he had studied as a child during catechism. He couldn’t be reached to comment.

Most of the defendants have been in pretrial detention since December 2019, when thousands of law-enforcement officers took part in one of Italy’s biggest-ever crackdowns against organized crime. The arrests followed a nearly four-year investigation led by Nicola Gratteri, a Calabria native who has spent years fighting the ‘Ndrangheta and has himself become one of the group’s targets.

Thanks to Eric Sylvers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Good Mothers: The Story of the Three Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia #Ndrangheta

The electrifying, untold story of the women born into the most deadly and obscenely wealthy of the Italian mafias – and how they risked everything to bring it down.

The Calabrian Mafia—known as the ’Ndrangheta—is one of the richest and most ruthless crime syndicates in the world, with branches stretching from America to Australia. It controls seventy percent of the cocaine and heroin supply in Europe, manages billion-dollar extortion rackets, brokers illegal arms deals—supplying weapons to criminals and terrorists—and plunders the treasuries of both Italy and the European Union.

The ’Ndrangheta’s power derives from a macho mix of violence and silence—omertà. Yet it endures because of family ties: you are born into the syndicate, or you marry in. Loyalty is absolute. Bloodshed is revered. You go to prison or your grave and kill your own father, brother, sister, or mother in cold blood before you betray The Family. Accompanying the ’Ndrangheta’s reverence for tradition and history is a violent misogyny among its men. Women are viewed as chattel, bargaining chips for building and maintaining clan alliances and beatings—and worse—are routine.

In 2009, after one abused ’Ndrangheta wife was murdered for turning state’s evidence, prosecutor Alessandra Cerreti considered a tantalizing possibility: that the ’Ndrangheta’s sexism might be its greatest flaw—and her most effective weapon. Approaching two more mafia wives, Alessandra persuaded them to testify in return for a new future for themselves and their children.

A feminist saga of true crime and justice, The Good Mothers: The Story of the Three Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia, is the riveting story of a high-stakes battle pitting a brilliant, driven woman fighting to save a nation against ruthless mafiosi fighting for their existence. Caught in the middle are three women fighting for their children and their lives. Not all will survive.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

48 Mafia Suspects from the Most Active, Richest, Most Powerful Organized Crime Syndicate Arrested

Italian police have arrested 48 suspected members of the southern 'Ndrangheta mafia in a sweep that uncovered dealings in flowers and chocolates as well as drugs and arms, anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti said.

The suspected members of two 'Ndrangheta clans also associated with illicit trafficking in the Dutch flower market and stolen Lindt chocolate.

The mafia centred in southern Calabria have "great flexibility, adapting to markets that offer the most opportunity to get rich," Rome deputy prosecutor Michele Prestipino told a news conference on Monday.

Working with Dutch prosecutors, Italian police uncovered several cells of one of the clans in The Netherlands, focusing on the flower trade. "This operation has shown that the 'Ndrangheta families today have the financial and human means to colonise outside their home territory," Prestipino said.

The probe also uncovered trafficking in 250 tonnes of Lindt chocolate worth more than seven million euros ($7.9 million), stolen in Italy late last year and sold on in Italy, Poland, Austria and Switzerland, the prosecutors said.

The 'Ndrangheta are the most active, richest and most powerful organised crime syndicate in Europe, according to Italian authorities.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Full Details on US-Italian #Mafia Takedown of 24 Defendants Including Reputed #Ndrangheta Member, #Gambino A

A 15—count indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging seven defendants with narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and firearms offenses based, in part, on their participation in a transnational heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy involving the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy’s most powerful organized crime syndicates. The defendants—‘Ndrangheta member Raffaele Valente, also known as “Lello”; Gambino associate Franco Lupoi; Bonanno associate Charles Centaro, also known as “Charlie Pepsi”; Dominic Ali; Alexander Chan; Christos Fasarakis; and Jose Alfredo Garcia, also known as “Freddy”—were arrested earlier today. In a coordinated operation, Italian law enforcement authorities arrested 17 members and associates of the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria, Italy, who were involved in the narcotics trafficking conspiracy, among other crimes.

The seven defendants arrested in the United States were scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold, at the United States Courthouse at 225 Cadman Plaza East in Brooklyn, New York. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).

“The ‘Ndrangheta is an exceptionally dangerous, sophisticated, and insidious criminal organization with tentacles stretching from Italy to countries around the world,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “The defendant Lupoi sought to use his connections with both ‘Ndrangheta and the Gambino crime family to extend his own criminal reach literally around the globe. Today, thanks to the vigilance and sustained cooperation of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners in Italy, the ‘Ndrangheta’s efforts to gain a foothold in New York have been dealt a lasting blow.” Ms. Lynch praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and expressed her thanks to law enforcement partners in Italy, including the Prosecutor of the Republic of Reggio Calabria; the Italian National Police (INP), in particular, the Squadra Mobile of Reggio Calabria and the Servizio Centrale Operativo; the Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga; and the Direzione Nazionale Antimafia. Ms. Lynch also expressed gratitude to the U.S. Department of Justice Attaché and the the FBI Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, who coordinated extensive evidence-sharing and undercover operations.

“As alleged, ‘Ndrangheta’s clan members conspired with members of the Gambino organized crime family in New York in an attempt to infiltrate our area with their illegal activities. Under the auspices of legitimate shipping businesses, the two criminal groups worked together to establish a plan of moving cocaine and heroin between the United States and Italy. Little did they know, there was an ongoing collaboration between the FBI and the Italian National Police to investigate and identify their scheme. This international cooperation between our great law enforcement agencies is one that was established at the beginning of our investigation, and it remains in place today. With every arrest made, both here and in Italy, FBI agents and Italian National Police officers closely coordinated their operations and share the success of this operation,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.

As detailed in the indictment and detention letter filed today, defendant Franco Lupoi, a Brooklyn resident who has lived in Calabria, used his close criminal ties to both the Gambino organized crime family and the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian criminal organization akin to the Mafia in Sicily and the Camorra in Naples, to pursue criminal activity that stretched across the globe. The Italian charges unsealed today reveal how the ‘Ndrangheta has operated for decades in Calabria in localized clans—known as ‘ndrine—based primarily on close family ties. In this case, Lupoi’s father-in-law, Italian defendant Nicola Antonio Simonetta, is a member of the Ursino clan of the ‘Ndrangheta. In 2012, Simonetta traveled to Brooklyn and met with Lupoi and an undercover FBI agent, who recorded Simonetta and Lupoi discussing plans to ship narcotics between the U.S. and Italy via the port of Gioia Tauro in Calabria, an infamous hub of ‘Ndrangheta activity. Simonetta revealed that his ‘Ndrangheta associates at the port would guarantee the safe arrival of container ships containing contraband.

As alleged in court documents, Lupoi exploited these underworld connections to link his criminal associates in New York with those in Calabria, forming conspiracies to traffic heroin and cocaine. On the Italian side, he allegedly engaged Italian defendant and ‘Ndrangheta leader Francesco Ursino and others as suppliers of heroin and buyers of cocaine. During two joint FBI-INP operations in Italy, Lupoi and Ursino sold more than 1.3 kilograms of heroin to an FBI undercover agent for what they believed was eventual distribution in the United States. In New York, Lupoi, Chan, and Garcia sold the undercover agent more than a kilogram of heroin.

As alleged, Lupoi also set into motion a plot to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine, concealed in frozen food, in shipping containers from Guyana to Calabria. In the course of these conspiracies, Lupoi assured his confederates of his relationship with a corrupt port official in Gioia Tauro, indicating that in return for €200,000, the official could guarantee passage of unlimited containers of contraband. In New York, Lupoi joined forces with defendants Alexander Chan and Garcia to orchestrate the Guyana-Italy cocaine conspiracy. In conversations recorded by the undercover agent, the conspirators discussed their connections to Mexican drug cartels operating in Guyana, South America, and plotted to transport 500 kilograms of cocaine internationally, hidden in shipments of frozen fish or pineapples. On the Italian side, Ursino and his co-conspirators planned to use a fish importation company to receive the shipment. As set forth in Italian court documents, the conspiracy slowed when shipping containers originating from the same Guyanese shipping company were seized in Malaysia and found to contain more than $7 million in cocaine hidden in pineapples and coconut milk.

As set forth in court documents, Lupoi also worked closely with U.S. defendant and ‘Ndrangheta member Raffaele Valente, who sold an illegal silencer and sawed-off shotgun to the FBI undercover agent at the Royal Crown Bakery in Brooklyn. In conversations intercepted on Italian wiretaps, Valente revealed that he had assembled a group of well-armed men in New York and that their base of operations was as secure as Fort Knox. Valente also discussed his devotion to St. Michael the Archangel as the purported “patron saint” of the ‘Ndrangheta and exhorted Italian defendant Andrea Memmolo to wear a special ring as a sign of pride and mutual recognition. Valente and Lupoi are charged with conspiracy to transfer a firearm, and Valente is charged with two counts of illegal possession of a silencer. Valente is also charged in Italy with the crime of mafia association based on his role in establishing an ‘Ndrangheta cell in New York.

As alleged, Lupoi further maintained a network of money laundering associates in New York. He and his co-defendants Dominic Ali, Charles “Charlie Pepsi” Centaro, and Christos Fasarakis, an employee of Alma Bank in Brooklyn, laundered more than $500,000 in funds that they believed were the proceeds of narcotics and illegal weapons trafficking. Centaro was recorded describing his access to bank accounts with millions of dollars through which he could launder and conceal criminal proceeds.

If convicted, Lupoi, Chan, and Garcia face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; Ali, Centaro, and Fasarakis face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each money laundering charge; and Valente faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment on each firearms charge.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina Posa, Kristin Mace, and Kevin Trowel.

The charges contained in the indictment and complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Franco Lupoi
Age: 44
Brooklyn, New York

Dominic Ali
Age: 55
Brooklyn, New York

Charles Centaro, a.k.a. “Charlie Pepsi”
Age: 50
Brooklyn, New York

Alexander Chan
Age: 46
New York, New York

Christos Fasarakis
Age: 42
Brooklyn, New York

Raffaele Valente, a.k.a. “Lello”
Age: 42
Brooklyn, New York

Jose Alfredo Garcia, a.k.a. “Freddy”
Age: 47
New York, New York


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