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The origins of the ‘ndrangheta of Calabria: Italy’s most powerful mafia

7 March 2011

Professor John Dickie (UCL Italian)

On 15 August 2007, six young men with origins in the Italian region of Calabria were ambushed and murdered in the German steel town of Duisburg. This was northern Europe’s St Valentine’s Day massacre, the worst ever mafia bloodbath outside Italy and the United States. Suddenly, journalists across the globe were struggling with what the New York Times called an ‘unpronounceable name’: ‘ndrangheta (en-drang-get-ah.) In the 1990s, the ‘ndrangheta placed itself in a leading position in the European wholesale cocaine market by dealing direct with South American producers. It is now thought to be the wealthiest and most powerful of Italy’s major criminal brotherhoods. But how, when, and why did it first emerge?

Page last modified on 07 mar 11 16:26


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