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The New Year Arrives with a Bang in Italy

We are over a week or so into the New Year.  However despite official celebrations being over, fireworks are still going off in 2010 in Italy.

First a bomb exploded in front of a court house down in southern Italy, and then immigrants started rioting in the very same region of southern Italy – Calabria.

Reggio Calabria in Italy
Reggio Calabria in Italy - 'Ndragheta mafia Heartland

It’s being reported in the Italian press that the Reggio Calabria court bomb was planted by the ‘ndrangheta mafia, and other reports suggest that the very same mafia group may well have provoked immigrants in Rosarno into rioting.

‘Ndrangheta mafia involvement in the riots appears to have been confirmed by news that Italians arrested in connection with the Rosarno violence are known members of ‘ndrangheta mafia families.

Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported that the ‘ndrangheta mafia had deliberately kept tensions in the area high.

Why would the mafia want to set off bombs and spark riots?

Anti-Mafia Wars

At the moment Italy’s government is waging a war against Italy’s various mafia, and a number of high profile successes have been scored against two of the most powerful Italian criminal organisations -the camorra and cosa nostra.

Over the last couple of years or so, kingpins of Naples’ camorra mafia groups have been arrested, and a substantial number of mafia assets have been seized too.

In Sicily, in addition to arrests, a campaign encouraging businesses not to pay the pizzo protection fee has been successful – thus reducing income flowing into cosa nosta coffers.

The Italian press has been full to the brim with stories of how the government is winning the war against the mafia.

Pride, though, sometimes has a habit of coming before a fall.

The Reggio Calabria court bombing, and; though no-one seems to have connected the two incidents yet; the rioting in Rosarno may well be a message to Italy’s government.  Both messages illustrate quite graphically the trouble the mafia can stir up if provoked.

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UPDATE: 11 January 2010 Report on Reuters mentions that investigators suspect the Reggio Calabria court bombing and riots in Rosarno are linked – article is in Italian. It was only a matter of time.

Mafia Down, but not Out

The mafia in Italy may be down, but it does not seem to be out.  Italian mafia expert and author Roberto Saviano did not mince his words when he told Italy’s Repubblica newspaper that if it wanted to, the ‘ndrangheta mafia had enough fire-power to raise the whole of the Italian city of Reggio Calabria to the ground.

I have heard it said that the ‘ndrangheta mafia is possibly the most powerful organised crime group in Italy.   To think that there is another organisation which is even more powerful than the camorra is worrying. I’ve read Saviano’s book on the camorra flavour of Italy’s mafia, and was utterly shocked at the extent of camorra power and influence.

The worry that the ‘ndrangheta may be more powerful than the camorra, may be what has led to the Italian government sending more police to Calabria.

There is another possibility though.  The actions of ‘ndrangheta mafia, if the ‘ndrangheta is indeed behind recent events, could be the death throes of a dying criminal organisation.

The ‘ndrangheta, it could be argued, is the last of the big three Italian mafia organisations (Cosa nostra, Camorra, ‘ndrangheta).  With Italy’s government starting to make headway against the other two mafia organisations, the ndrangheta must know that attention will be focused on its activities.  This would be another good reason for firing shots over investigators bows.

Nick Squires, the UK Telegraph’s Italy correspondent wrote an interesting article on claims by Italy’s government that that the anti-mafia strategy is making good progress.  In the same article, it is pointed out by Felia Allum, a mafia expert and political scientist at Bath University, that merely arresting a few mafia kingpins does not make the problem evaporate.

Silvio Berlusconi Returns to the Fray

Today Berlusconi bounces back onto Italy’s political scene after recovering from being hit in the face with a miniature Duomo cathedral souvenir which was thrown by a poor misguided Italian soul.

Current events such as rioting immigrants, and the recent bombing of a court building in the heart of mafia territory in southern Italy, will mean that Silvio Berlusconi’s return to the fray will be just that.


Il Sole 24 Ore, 10 January, 2010  – Rosarno, inchiesta sul ruolo della ‘ndrangheta – Rosarno, inquiries into the role of the ‘ndrangheta by Roberto Galullo -in Italian

Telegraph UK, 9 January 2010  – Italy claims It’s finally defeating the mafia by Nick Squires

Wikipedia – Mafia – links to information on mafia in Italy and elsewhere

The location of Rosarno in Italy on Google Maps.

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