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GNOSIS 3/2007
Ancient feuds and new crimes

articolo redazionale

This article, far from proposing an historical-criminal monograph on the phenomenon of the Calabrian ‘ndrangheta (mafia-type organization), which is, besides, the subject of a flourishing and qualified literature, tries, instead, to offer a reflection on themes and specific aspects from which to draw crucial ideas for discussion on the possible mafia developments in Calabria. The ‘ndrangheta has aroused considerable attention from the areas of public and private information, which rightly considers it as the most dangerous Italian criminal organization, able to compete with the State in the control of Calabria and deviously infiltrate the national and European financial and economic circuits. The recent massacre committed in the German town, Duisburg, last August, concerning the San Luca feud, has again raised and increased the perception, at a European level, of the very serious danger posed by the ‘ndrangheta.

photo Ansa

From the police analyses, books and interviews with judges competent for territory as expert “mafiologists” emerge clearly that the phenomenon is anything but unknown; on the contrary, the most secret recesses of this criminal organization and its interests are plumbed and investigated.
Unlike other European realities, in Italy, the police and intelligence do not need to identify the threats – which are, by now, so well known and of such overriding priority as to act as a brake for the new ones – as much as to monitor and qualify the risks represented by the different modulations of the same threats in the various regional contexts.
Such a task is particularly burdensome because it is not completed just with the knowledge of forms, models and interests of the mafia organizations, but is further aimed at considering the impact that these have in the area of origin, with regard, therefore, to the environmental vulnerability which constitutes the breeding ground for the growth of the mafia. In this sense, the police and intelligence detect, above all, the welded connections between economic, administrative and mafia factors, which render the social criminal repellents ineffective: they enlarge the different fronts of the conflict, rendering them asymmetrical and transversal, and kindle the hoped for reactive sensitivities of all sectors of the society.
There are no unequivocal and sure answers in the proposed reflections, and no cure-all to comfort the hopes of defeating organized crime.
There are, however, central questions which offer a contribution of thought to the construction of a more modern and adherent strategy of counteracting the ‘ndrangheta.

The organizational “miracle”
of the ‘ndrangheta

By now, it is well-known to everyone, also to the less expert and uninformed on the subject, that the ‘ndrangheta is the mafia organization present in Calabria and is more or less spread throughout all the national regions and in many foreign States.
It is not always as well understood, however, that not only one criminal protagonist exists, and that the ‘ndrangheta is actually a number of autonomous elements, as in a mosaic, which are kept together more by a common perspective than framed in a definite picture, without harming the absolute autonomy of the local mafia entities. These latter exercise a total monopoly in the area of origin – at times in competition, other times, so closely tied that they merge into one single reality, in the name of sanctioned common interests and political unions.
For example the cosche (pronounced ‘koske’(mafia bands) of Cirò, Vibo Valentia, Lamezia Terme, Gioia Tauro or Locri are not part of a hierarchical unicum, but answer to localistic logic and to strategies regarding only the families in the respective territories.
They can become allies to face a common enemy; they can “exchange” killers; they can also come into conflict to obtain or maintain favoured positions with respect to interests, but they remain distinct entities which have only one thing in common: the general recognition of the ‘ndranghetist model.
Nevertheless, it is true that in the modern scenario each organization cannot maintain its monadic character.
In a society by now centred on communications and inter-dependence, it is obvious that link-up circuits between the criminal entities have developed, finalized to the pursuit of the most extreme competitiveness.
Such circuits are strongly characterized and oriented by:
- an exclusive use of language and codes which, beyond performing a regulatory role, constitute a typical criminal identity;
- organizational logic of network, which is based on inter-dependence and which allows the sprinkling of the regional fabric according to a sole model, protecting the autonomy of the parts;
- an economic interest, which constitutes the final objective of mafia action, for the very reason that business represents the occasion for personal, social and mafioso emancipation. It is not at random that the different roles of alliances and feuds play an important part in business. They are instruments of survival and competition in restricted territorial areas, in which it is essential to protect and widen one’s “vital” space.
Therefore, the horizontal model for the ‘ndrangheta constitutes:
- on the one side, a limitation, because the different component parts are led to assert, sometimes very harshly, their independence, rendering the pursuit of global strategies and homogeneity very difficult, frequently causing sensitive centrifugal and hypercompetitive crises. Another point of vulnerability derives from the social alarm and from State reactions, inspired by local facts, which are labelled as regional phenomena, inducing a stronger police repression, thus penalizing and irritating the bosses from other areas, who prefer the politics of submergence;
- on the other side, it constitutes an advantage, since strong and
radical repression in one area does not affect the other areas or the entire system. In short, unlike in Sicily, an investigative activity is often completed within the operative area of one or more “locali” (“localities”), without undermining other zones or essential levels of the leadership. For example, the arrest of the criminal, Giuseppe Bellocco, constitutes an extraordinary success due to the weight of the subject in the balances and interests of the Tyrrhenian Reggio Calabrian area. The boss is certainly in the foreground of the ‘ndranghetist panorama, but his arrest would not jeopardize the structure of the entire organization, as might the arrests of criminals like Salvatore Lo Piccolo of Palermo and Domenico Raccuglia of Altofonte who, for Cosa Nostra, constitute the “heart”, also at a strategic level.
Since the ‘ndrangheta is in continuous evolution and quick to understand the demands of the market and the competition, it is obvious that innovative ideas and adaptations to the new logic concerning centralization or de-centralization will, from time to time, emerge.
It is not thought, however, that such ideas can characterize a similarity with the Sicilian model, which is typically verticistico (where all decision-making is restricted to the top hierarchical level) and which is, and always has been, very different.

Geo-conflicting aspects

Numerous small criminal groups gravitate in a single Calabrian centre. They are called ‘ndrine and derive from the same organization “locale” (locality). In many cases, they come into conflict because they want to have more control or to take over the leadership of the entire criminal structure and they join with ‘ndrine of other areas, with an end to increasing, with relational capacity, also the military one: thus creating transversal formations to the compartmentalized mafioso geography.
It is an unstable and chaotic situation, therefore, which increases the frequency of the inter-dependence between the locali and the conflicting situations, enhancing the threat of tensions to the point of causing, as has often come about in the past, real mafia wars.
It is not mere coincidence that the typical expression of the ‘ndrangheta conflict is the blood feud. It explodes in areas of high mafia index, in which a strong competition between ‘ndrine of the same locale, remains unresolved. Notwithstanding the fact that they can be kept at a low tension level for long periods, the feuds are destined to flare up at the slightest provocation and are fed by an insatiable hatred and desire for revenge.
The longer the feud lasts, with the commission of a great number of homicides, the more the occasions of resentment and vendetta increase, fuelling the tensions in a never-ending circle.
From the structural profile, the feud originates, both because of the existence of the aforementioned horizontal organizational model, in which the function of imposing a chain of command and the centripetal characteristics of the hierarchy are missing, and because of the multi-faceted origin of the mafia entity. In fact, in this last case, the ‘ndrine originates due to scission of the original nucleus, in the case of:
- decease or arrest of a mafia-head of a particular zone, for which
the descendants, many times, begin a new gang of criminals, first forming an autonomous branch of the ‘ndrina and then an independent one. The study of the genealogical trees of the ‘ndranghetist families is most interesting: from the original boss, lateral branches are put out, often with the same names, and distinct from their parents only by the date of birth or nickname, (Pelle vanchei, Pelle gambazza, Pelle Pakistan, Pelle mita e mata; Morabito tiradritto, Morabita Larè, Morabita Brunocchio, Morabita scassaporte; Barbaro castanu, Barbaro nigro etc.,). In many cases the parental ties remain very close and compose a single formation – although someone always claims their own autonomy. Ties are close not only because of blood relations, but also through relations of elevated symbolic value and of concrete effectiveness, such as the relation of godfather, godmother or best man, which are the fruit of deep personal choice, equal to the state of mother or father and which create an affective and impenetrable criminal network. Other motives of conflict are when families, through time, become related through marriage to adversary families. In fact, this is what emerged from the judicial situation relative to the feud of San Luca. Often, it is precisely the parental elements, common to both the disputing parties, who are summoned to a difficult composition of the diatribe – to tell the truth, not always with great success:
- necessity of a logistic or operative pole outside of the area of origin (both in the region and in other national and foreign areas). When such ‘ndrine assume a significant and conspicuous profile, they can become locali. Normally, this structural evolution is painless or functional to the mother cosca (mafia band), also because the new ‘ndrina or the new locale assure an economic or business return to the original mother band. Nevertheless, it also happens that between the two realities, the new and the old, tensions are created, due to business interests and disaccord on the management of the internal power structure (always remembering the transversality of the ‘ndrine within the locali.

Leadership and representation

The charismatic value of certain bosses; the different “economic” and “political” weight of the controlled areas, which confer a hierarchy of importance; the widespread necessity to recognize a role of intermediary who can intervene and resolve tensions between the bands, has in the standard practice formed and legitimized a sort of Mafioso Lobby able to bear on strategies of superior level and common interest, and to aggregate agreements on choices and resolutions to internal crises. Such elite has tried to structure itself in a hierarchical level able to confer a greater power of intervention, with alternating good fortune, but with only just sufficient results.
The subject of the verticalization of the ‘ndrangheta structure, mentioned previously, and which, in certain respects, remains an open question, is strictly tied to the forms of leadership and internal organization, to the levels and ranks of representation, and to the function of the ‘ndrangheta. The unitary model is sustained through – besides a common criminal spirit – a shared internal organizational model, which is safeguarded by tradition, and which is entrusted both to forms of representation within the locale and to outside representatives, at the provincial and the central levels (“capocrimine” –boss of the “crimine” of San Luca: to follow).
In this way, the symbolic and ideological communion of the organization is guaranteed, and also the preservation of power and the privileged position of the mafioso lobby are assured.
Supporters of the verticistico model find in this elitist authority the distinctive sign of a centralized system, while the supporters of the full horizontal model, attribute to it a merely symbolical significance and of formal representation.
In certain police activities, also confirmed by contributions from police co-operators, the task of the most important bands emerges: to legitimize forms of representation and of coordination, if not in a superior position, at least, endowed with more effective and coercive decisional power.
In this regard the attempt is noted – in the province of Reggio Calabria, real epicentre of the phenomenon and still the heart of the ‘ndragheta today – to institute three compartments on the model of the Sicilian areas of jurisdiction structure: Reggio Calabria, the Ionian and Tyrrhenian zones.
In reality, this structure has confirmed the dominant positions of the most important families of the respective areas, formally legitimizing a function already exercised in the standard procedure of reference point for agreements, alliances and pacifications.

San Luca

Even stronger is the institute of the “crimine” (elite andranghetists), which assembles the superior echelons of the mafia to share experiences, to mature peace-making interventions, to attempt to promote a strategy to the benefit of the respective mandatory users: the satellite locali bosses. It is an occasion and a court in which the mafioso lobbies convene, perpetuating their dominant strategic positions and possessing the burden of safeguarding and preserving the identity and doctrinal profile. They can decide the suspension of a locale and the recourse to reprimand, also violently, in the case that the fault continues. In the normal practice, however, the respect for the autonomy of the cosche and the transversality of the formations has strongly limited the realization of such authority of the crimine.
The capocrimine (boss of the crimine is the highest role of the ‘ndrangheta. Chosen, for capacity and charisma, from among the representatives of major prominence in the area, considered the cradle of the phenomenon, San Luca, competent also for the zone of Madonna dei Polsi. The Sanctuary was unjustly appropriated by the ‘ndranghetists as their temple, deity to protect who has the burden of preserving the founding values and to guarantee, in the annual festivities meeting, the execution of all the activities of interpretation and intermediation necessary to resolve the critical questions of the organization.
From many parts and in the recent period, signals of crisis in the crimine and of the representation are emerging.
Recent events, among which the endogenous conflicts at Africo, as at Locri, have demonstrated the incapacity of the representatives to bring the disputing parties to a more reasonable attitude and to impose a leadership and a strategy useful to the entire organization. The self-serving attitude, therefore, and the violent hatred supported by the local interests seem to surpass any central dirigisme, comforting those who believe in the supremacy of the autonomies.
Even more serious is the situation relative to the San Luca feud, the real “heart” of the ‘ndrangheta and area of competence of the present capocrimine, Antonio Pelle “gambazza” who, notwithstanding declared non-involvement in the facts, it turns out, however, that he is indirectly involved due to the presence among the disputing parties of his son-in-law, Francesco Vottari.
It emerges clearly in the judicial provision relative to the feud, the functioning of both the crimine and other forms of representation, directed to contain the escalation of violence and yet unable to stop the “strage di Natale” (Christmas massacre), carried out by Pelle-Vottari, and the following reaction at Duisburg by Nirta-Strangio.
It is thought that the present moment is decisive for the destiny of the formal and informal institutions of representation of the ‘ndrangheta, insofar as its level of effectiveness is at the lowest of all time.
The hard reaction of the State could induce the cosche to limit their own power in favour of a court for the compulsory resolution of conflicts, also to avoid repetition of economic and image damage, paid by all the ‘ndrangheta components.
The words of the notorious boss, Giuseppe Zappia could be quoted at this juncture: “here there’s no ‘ndrangheta of Mico Tripodo, there’s no ‘ndrangheta of ‘Ntoni Macrì, there’s no ‘ndrangheta of Peppe Nirta! We must be united, who wants to stay, stay, who doesn’t want to, go!”
It concerned a new way of thinking – the ability to understand the necessity of adapting the criminal instrument to the modernity of the social and economic onsets.

Between tradition and modernity

The danger of the ‘ndrangheta lies in the combination of force, violence and, often, brutality of the criminal actions, with sophisticated and modern systems of management of the regional and trans-national illegal traffic, in which it frequently acquires an elevated competitive level.
In the area of origin, the above described combination is pervasive and total, exercising full extortive control over the local productive activities and clashing harshly with the antagonist cosche, thus manifesting and conserving a monopolistic power.

Beyond the predatory face, however, all “cloth cap and violence”, the ‘ndrangheta is, more and more, converting to the direct participation in entrepreneurial activities, so as to intercept and share the conspicuous funding foreseen for the re-qualification of the territory.
The very ancient process, which permeates the history of the Calabrian criminality, is that of being able to intuit opportunities offered by the economic evolution of the Region and disposed to thoroughly reconstruct itself in order to find occasions of making money and more advantageous outlets for reinvesting the wealth obtained.
Such environmental adaptability has created marked differences between the Tyrrhenian cosche, more inclined to entrepreneurial activities and direct investment in the economy, and the Ionian cosche, more prevalently oriented towards kidnapping, in the first place, and secondly, to the traffic of drugs – thanks also, to their fellow citizens emigrated to the Northern regions, junctions with respect to international traffic of heroin and cocaine.
The widespread opportunities in the whole Region have, today, homologated the profile of the vocations, markedly orienting them towards the entrepreneurial aspect.
The availability of wealth obtained through the kidnapping of people and, above all, from the drug trafficking, has pushed the cosche to begin investing in transport, in quarries, in the manufacturing of concrete and onward to the entire cement cycle.
The strategic moment of the entrepreneurial evolution took solid form with the starting up of the works relative to the highway A3 and the Gioia Tauro Port, in a contextual lapse of time in which every cosca (pronounced koska) had been able to advance in the economic sector, also through the exploitation of the opportunities offered by the so-called “Colombo Package”.
The success of this operation also depended on the conspiratorial or competitive contribution of the white collars, through their systematic employment in certain administrative sectors which have facilitated the reciprocal exchange connection of the mafia interests with the vulnerable entrepreneurial and political ones.
It is, therefore, an ‘ndrangheta adherent to the territory: monopolist of the exercise of violence and, at the same time, progressively also determined to win a face which is socially more civilized and acceptable.
It is not by accident that in many mafiosa families, the bosses invest in new professional profiles for their children, in this way, strengthening a mafiosa bourgeoisie more easily concealed within the social fabric and in the local power environments, producing a citizen representation which is also comprised of cosche members, as the dissolution of numerous municipal administrations has demonstrated.
In view of such experience on the territory, for many years the ‘ndrangheta has been exercising full control of all the drug markets in all of Italy, above all, those strategic ones in Lombardy, where mafia groups are rooted, which were initially committed to logistic activities and, today, are well entrenched also in the entrepreneurial sector.
The Calabrian competitive aggressiveness is able to cover the empty spaces of the Cosa nostra, assuming, from the first years of the 90’s, the apical role of European reference point of the heroin traffic coming from the Balkan route, and of cocaine, coming from overseas.
Thanks to the Calabrians, also the Albanian and Kosovan clans acquire competence and experience. It seemed for a brief period that they might substitute the Calabrians when these latter were submitted to a widespread repression. However, the clans maintain a respectful attitude towards the privilege of the ‘ndranghetists.
It is not by chance that among the groups of narcos which transfer to Spain and Holland, which are by now, centres with respect to the flows of drugs, prevalently concerning cocaine, the Calabrians still have the advantage, having established entire colonies of affiliates in the Iberian area, with the task of managing the lucrative business on behalf of the cosche of origin.
One asks oneself, therefore, what the secret is of the alchemy between violence and strategic sophistication of the interests, and how it is possible to conciliate, on the one side, the marked predatory and parasitical spirit, which has rendered huge flows of funding useless; rendering ineffectual any programme of re-qualification of an already suffocating territory, and on the other side, the widespread spirit of initiative which, very quickly, brings out the Calabrian supremacy in many economic sectors of entire national and foreign areas.
It is often difficult to justify the contextualization between the proliferation of great commercial centres, often excessive with respect to the logic of the market; the penetration into the tourist sector, which consents additional interests in the form of supplying vigilance services, care-taking of property, boats etc; the infiltration into the health sector and in the waste disposal business; experience with unscrupulous business environments, to share common interests with the homicide of women, the injury of children caught in the fire of the killers, the brutal massacres and the destructive and excessive attacks.
And yet today, the fugitive boss, who passes rapidly through the labyrinths of his underground refuges – dungeons which assure the presence of the boss in the zone, even though in hiding – from this dark den directs collusion in high places, huge business, shrewd economic forecasts and important financial transactions.
It is thought that the very force of the ‘ndrangheta is its dual nature, which always conserves the brutal and uninhibited spirit, also in the most “laical” business affairs and outside of the controlled territory.
This basic nature is also the heart of a system of complicity, connivance and, often, organic ties that make the criminal threat indistinct from the fabric to protect.
The mafioso employs his criminal experience in business enterprises, in social roles and relations with regional administrative representatives, rather than with other entrepreneurs, replicating intimidating or collusive logic, resorting also to violent action, and always safeguarding the pre-eminence of the cosche in business affairs.
This has led to an indiscriminate diffusion of the violence that mixes:
- attacks on subject who are resistant to mafia interests;
- intimidating actions against outside mafia subjects who use effectively the parlance and the methods of mafia of the territory;
- acts to the detriment of subjects who are reference point contacts of the adversary cosca group, because they represent strong targets to hit, also from the symbolic viewpoint. In fact, often a cosca will boast primacy because of privileged relations with qualified subjects of the territory, who, for this reason, become strategic objectives.
The involvement in shady situations of many administrators from local governments and regional administration, as shown from the numerous investigations in the sector, and the dissolution of municipal and local authorities, risks making this last hypothesis more diffused; because to hit an important reference point contact constitutes economic and image damage, which is hard for the adversary to take – all this, also at the cost of repressive action which the cosche may sustain.
Finally, it emerges, from the evaluation expressed, that the modernity of the ‘ndrangheta is the natural evolution of its tradition, to which it is indissolubly tied.
The ‘ndrangheta is the declination, adherent to the times, of a paradigm of values and criminal opportunism.
With the exception of critical moments, for generational rifts and for epoch-making turning points in which the discontinuity between past and present is more evident, the course of the ‘ndrangheta always appears to be the coherent development of its mafiosa matrix, even though dressed in other clothes and in other organization charts.
Certainly, today, many complain, also within the organization, about the easiness of obtaining the “doti” (ranks), due to the facilitation offered to some people, irrespective of value, so that the traditional meritocratic significance of the criminal modus operandi is debased. Furthermore, also underlined is the prevalence of personal interests to the detriment of the mafia image – often forgetting that each preceding generation attributes this situation to the fault of the successive one.
However, it is also true that the sensitivity to understand the times, as well as conserving, in tact, the capacity to exercise the violence and intimidation as a model imposed towards the outside, constitutes the social reason for the mafia itself, and the sense of a sick competitiveness capable of establishing itself on the more evolved markets.
All the authorities variously intervening in the “Calabrian” question, show a lively attention to the seeking of solutions, whether political, to render the undertakings of re-qualification of the territory sustainable and effective, or practical, to restore to the community, real serenity and a renewed faith in the institutions.
In fact, the institutions are aware of the danger of the threat that welds tradition and modernity, and which permeates the vital circuits of the society, suffocating, at times, the prospects of development
The structural nature of the organization and, by now, its rooted establishment make the anti-mafia activities much harder. They have to face the situation; at a military level, against a great number of cosche in conflict; at an economic level, with the systematic infiltration of the tender/contract sector, as well as, many other entrepreneurial sectors:- property and real estate, building, health, commerce and finance, and at a political level with organic or sinallagmatici relations (in which the diffused interests shared by mafia lobbies, entrepreneurial and administrative sectors are tied together) with business, lobby and technical-administrative group.
The situation is even more complex due to the vulnerability caused by disenchantment (or self-interest) of part of the productive society.
Although it is not “politically correct”, the opinion of some must still be opportunely evaluated, e.g. that the mafia performs a role, though nefarious and illusory, as a regulator of the economic and social system which, with time, could create all the makings of a substitution of power from the State to the cosche.
Such a regulatory function mortifies the market, but allows a parasitical revenue and a sharing-out agreement which, as well as favouring the interests of the sinallagmatico unscrupulous business group, offers a minimum, but safe space to those who are disposed to abdicate their business liberty and cede their dignity to compromise.
It is held, therefore, as is also suggested in the 2006 Report of the then Prefect of Reggio Calabria, Luigi De Sena, present Deputy Police Chief, that it is vital to recuperate the culture of legality in all the civil sectors, with an end to giving voice to the growing hopes of those who are far from the mafia logic, and to the young, who are always more unanimous in their desire to construct a different future.
The horizontal structure of the ‘ndrangheta, which gives value to the autonomous capacity of the single and local mafioso jurisdiction, could be less vulnerable to the militarization of the territory, the strong arm to which the cosche are accustomed and against which they are equipped, compared to the generalized orientation towards legality of the community and economic and social sectors, because the breeding ground and tacit assent in which the mafia operates and proliferates is reduced.
The legal instruments of the recent past and those beginning to happen, mainly in the contract/tender sector, the police and judiciary, the chorus of protest from many sectors, especially from the young people, constitutes the horizon towards which we must direct our hopes.
It is necessary that the State marshals its representative connections in a unitary fashion before the mafia connects its own and systematizes its capillary and widespread presence in the territory.
More than anything, it is important that the “Calabrian” emergency does not become a permanent occasion for business for the criminal associations, which have learned to exploit, to their own advantage, even the most praise-worthy ventures, in such a way that the active forces of the Region can interpret, in good time, the desire for recovery, which is the pre-condition for any civil project.
Also for this the Calabrian scenario is passing through a delicate evolutionary phase, from these aspects: military organization, economic-entrepreneurial and technical-administrative.
From the military-organizational aspect, the ancient alliances which performed a useful function of restraining the local centrifugal thrusts would seem strongly jeopardized, especially:
- in Reggio Calabria, the recent growing tensions between the principle cosche risk jeopardizing the equilibrium reached in the Regional Capital after the second mafia war, and could create the conditions for an escalation of the conflicts which are being kept at low tension by the very charisma of the aforementioned leaders. The conspicuous interests at stake, further fed by the expected expressway work in the Reggio area, could trigger unpredictable escalation although at the present state of things, a fairly sturdy axis seems to be in process, formed transversally by the Condello, Tegano, Labat ( other historic Reggio family which is assuming a renewed growing importance) and by the Alvaro of Sinopoli (which constitute a charismatic leadership in the northern area of the Reggio Calabria province);
- at Rosarno, for the arrest of Giuseppi Bellocco, for a long time,
reference point and mediator of the cosche of the area, which today, could want to have major autonomy with respect to both the narco-traffic and economic infiltration;
- at Gioia Tauro, for the tensions within the Piromalli and Molè
cosche, tied to the management of the economic activities;
- at San Luca, due to the escalation of the feud between the Pelle-
Vottari and the Nirta-Stragio which seriously risks to de-legitimize the organization of the “crimine” ( a body of representation and mediation of the whole of the ‘ndrangheta), which right in its area of origin was not able to find, in time, useful solutions of pacification;
- at Africo, where it seems that the clash between the two leading
forces of the Morabito family has worsened;
- in the Sybarite, for the re-organization of the Sirotane cosche – this
should be taking place also with the elimination of members held to be little akin to the new logic of the Farao-Marincola.
Instead, with regard to the economic aspect, the ‘ndrangheta is, by now, fully underway in a capillary and pervasive process of infiltration, both of the entrepreneurial enterprises (through reference point contacts or directly) and of the administrative structures, which permit the interception and management of financing and to exercise a more evolved control of the territory.
The entrepreneurial and collusive ability of the ‘ndrangheta is, at the moment, principally directed towards:
- the expressway construction work, mainly that of upgrading the
(SARC), the SS.106 (Ionian State) and the SS.182 (Transversal of the Serre). In this particular ambit, the cosche, which have already converted much of their activity into the earth removal sector, are sometimes so competitive that they provoke serious risk of conflict. In fact, the hegemony of the cosche corresponds to the geography of the “works”, so that control of a contract is charged with further criminal power and can reach as far as involving also the technical-administrative levels concerned.
- the health sector, where the strong interests do not remain intrinsic to the mere conditions of the contract, i.e. relative to specific services, supplying materials etc., but aim at an infiltration/occupation of the administrative structures for a direct and managerial intervention;
- the property and real estate and the tourist/hotel sectors, which
constitute a useful area for recycling illicit proceeds;
- the agricultural/food sector, particularly with reference to the
large distribution and vegetable and fruit markets.
In the technical-administrative sector, the ‘ndrangheta exploit the opportunity offered by the presence of reference point contacts or relatives, especially in the areas directly competent in the economic management of the territory, in order to:
- intercept the national and community financing;
exploit the property and real estate, tourist and entrepreneurial opportunities through the alteration of the regime of concessions, authorizations and variations to the regulatory plans (e.g. the changes in the regulations for the destination of land, such as, land for agricultural purposes converted to land for building uses);
to orient the employment and assistance policy.
In conclusion, therefore, it is held that any preventive or repressive analysis must take into proper account that:
- the horizontal character of the ‘ndrangheta (the autonomy of
each cosca and the absence of a summit) necessitates, from the operative, evaluation and intervention aspects, that they are adherent to the specificity of the individual contexts;
- from the strategic-political aspect, on the contrary, solutions of
centralization, predominantly in economic and entrepreneurial matters, thus avoiding the pulverization of public resources, which renders them more vulnerable to criminal aggression, especially at a local level;
- the ‘ndrangheta seeks, always more, to consolidate close relations
with the unscrupulous business lobbies, so as to share and reinforce common interests in the control of the territory, also from the aspect of the management of the resources. This could determine that the competitiveness within the cosche is transferred also to the unscrupulous business dealing level, reproducing the identical aggressive methods of the authentic criminal ambit.

photo Ansa