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The ''' 'Ndrangheta''' (from the Greek word ''andragathía'' (ἀνδραγαθία) for "heroism" and "virtue"; ) is a criminal organization in Italy, centered in Calabria. Despite not being as famous abroad as the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, and having been considered more rural compared to the Neapolitan Camorra and the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita, the 'Ndrangheta managed to become the most powerful crime syndicate of Italy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While commonly lumped together with the Sicilian Mafia, the 'Ndrangheta operates independently from the Sicilians, though there is contact between the two due to the geographical closeness of Calabria and Sicily.
In the folk culture surrounding 'Ndrangheta in Calabria references to the Spanish Garduña often appear. Aside from these references, however, there is nothing to substantiate a link between the two organizations. A connection is possible, though, if only through contact to the Camorra whose possible origins in the Garduna carry more substance. At any rate, the view of the 'Ndrangheta as successor to the Garduña (which is in turn blown up to a kind of global pirate organization) has certainly existed at times in Calabrian history. . The Greek origin of the name 'Ndrangheta derives from the Griko language, an ancient Greek dialect which is spoken by people in Calabria.
The first certain evidence of 'Ndrangheta derives from shortly after Italian unification (1861). Thus it is common to give its date of origin as being around this point. Italian unity was not immediately a positive development for southern Italy: the local populace of commoners was impoverished while squires ("galantuomini") took over large southern estates and heavy taxation was imposed. In this situation, 'Ndrangheta was either formed or heavily reinforced (if it already existed) by Calabrians who wanted to get even by blackmailing and robbing the rich (see also Social bandits or Brigantaggio).
Since the late 19th century, well-organized groups of criminals have been documented in Calabria, often being referred to as ''Camorra'', since there was no formal name at the time (even the Sicilian Mafia was referred to the same way, though Camorra now refers to the organized crime group in Naples, Italy). The roots of the 'Ndrangheta are often traced to the Picciotteria or ''Onorata Società'', organized groups in the areas of Calabria rich in olives and vines. These secret societies were distinct from the often anarchic forms of banditry and were organized hierarchially with a code of conduct that included omertà – the code of silence – according to a sentence from the court in Reggio Calabria in 1890. A 1897 sentence from the court in Palmi mentioned a written code of rules found in the village of Seminara based on honour, secrecy, violence, solidarity (often based on blood relationships) and mutual assistance.
[Gratteri & Nicasso, ''Fratelli di sangue'', pp. 23-28]
Until 1975, the 'Ndrangheta operated only in Calabria, mainly involved in extortion and blackmailing. Then a gang war started, killing 300 people. The prevailing faction began to kidnap rich people from northern Italy for ransom. It is believed that John Paul Getty III was one of their victims, though the kidnappers have never been caught. The "second 'Ndrangheta war" raged from 1985 to 1991. The bloody six-year war between the Condello-Imerti clan and De Stefano allied with the Tegano clan left 600 deaths.
[ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/24/internationalcrime.italy Godfather's arrest fuels fear of bloody conflict], The Observer, 24 February 2008] [ [http://www.repubblica.it/2008/02/sezioni/cronaca/arresto-condello/condello-storia/condello-storia.html Condello, leader pacato e spietato], La Repubblica, 19 February 2008] In the 1990s the organization started to invest in the illegal international drug trade, mainly importing cocaine from Colombia.
Francesco Fortugno, popular center-left politician and deputy president of the regional parliament, was openly killed by the 'Ndrangheta on 16 October 2005, in Locri. Demonstrations against the organization ensued, with youthful protesters carrying banderoles of "Ammazzateci tutti!"—"Kill us all!" The government started a large-scale enforcement operation in Calabria and arrested numerous 'ndranghetistas including the murderers of Fortugno.
In March 2006, the national anti-Mafia prosecutor announced the discovery of a submarine in Colombia; it was being constructed on behalf of the 'Ndrangheta for smuggling cocaine.
The 'Ndrangheta has recently expanded its activities to Northern Italy, mainly to sell drugs and to invest in legitimate businesses which can be used for money laundering. The mayor of Buccinasco was threatened when he tried to halt these investments; in May 2007 twenty members of 'Ndrangheta were arrested in Milan.
On 30 August 2007, hundreds of police raided the small town of San Luca, the focal point of the bitter San Luca feud between rival clans among the 'Ndrangheta. Over 30 men and women, linked to the killing of six Italian men in Germany, were arrested.
In September 2009 'Ndrangheta was accused by a former member of the gang of sinking dozens of ships loaded with radioactive waste off Italian coast and of shipping radioactive waste to developing countries for dumping.
Italian anti-organized crime agencies estimated in 2007 that the 'Ndrangheta has annual revenue of about € 35–40 billion (US$50–60 billion), which amounts to approximately 3.5% of the GDP of Italy.
[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jun/08/italy.johnhooper "Move over, Cosa Nostra."] ''The Guardian'', 8 June 2006.] [[http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1750008.ece "Mafiosi move north to take over the shops and cafés of Milan."] ''The Times'', 5 May 2007.] This comes mostly from illegal drug trafficking, but also from ostensibly legal businesses such as construction, restaurants and supermarkets. [ [http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3214,36-944807@51-944809,0.html "Six morts dans un règlement de comptes mafieux en Allemagne."] ''Le Monde''. 15 August 2007.]
The principal difference with the Mafia is in recruitment methods. The 'Ndrangheta recruits members on the criterion of blood relationships resulting in an extraordinary cohesion within the family clan that presents a major obstacle to investigation. Sons of ''‘ndranghetisti'' are expected to follow in their father's footsteps, and go through a grooming process in their youth to become ''giovani d’onore'' (boys of honor) before they eventually enter the ranks as ''uomini d’onore'' (men of honor). There are relatively few Calabrians who have opted out to become a pentito; at the end of 2002, there were 157 Calabrian witnesses in the state witness protection program.
[ Unlike the Sicilian Mafia in the early 1990s, they have scrupulously avoided a head-on confrontation with the Italian state.]
Prosecution in Calabria is hindered by the fact that Italian judges and prosecutors who score highly in exams get to choose their posting; those who are forced to work in Calabria will usually request to be transferred right away.
[ With weak government presence and corrupt officials, few civilians are willing to speak out against the organization.]