'Ndrangheta Mafia undone: Italy arrests 300 in huge crackdown
The 'Ndrangheta mafia, Italy's most powerful crime syndicate, was dealt a major blow by Italian police Tuesday. Police arrested 300, including the 'Ndrangheta mafia boss, Domenico Oppedisano. The group is allegedly involved in the health-care industry, cocaine distribution, and arms trafficking.
Italy struck a major blow against the little known ‘Ndrangheta mafia – the country's most dangerous and impenetrable mafia organization – Tuesday when police arrested 300 alleged members on charges of murder, drugs trafficking, and extortion.Skip to next paragraph
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In the biggest operation against the shadowy syndicate in 15 years, more than 3,000 armed police raided homes, offices, and mafia strongholds across the country, arresting the alleged head of the organization, Domenico Oppedisano, an 80-year-old godfather.
Mr. Oppedisano had been serving as the head of the organization since last year, when he was formally anointed leader at a lavish mafia wedding, according to Italian police.
For decades the 'Ndrangheta has been based in the southern region of Calabria, in the toe of the Italian boot, but has in recent years thrived on cocaine trafficking and spread its tentacles to northern Europe, the United States, South America, and Australia.
It has also established a formidable presence in northern Italy, laundering its dirty money and investing in ostensibly legitimate enterprises such as hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and even the health-care sector.
The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which claims it has done more in the last two years to tackle the mafia head on than any previous administration, hailed the raid against the ‘Ndrangheta as precedent setting.
It was "absolutely the most important operation against the 'Ndrangheta in recent years," according to Italy's interior minister, Roberto Maroni.
The Calabrian mob had been "hit in the heart of its organizational and financial structure," the minister said.
While the "Godfather" movies introduced the world to the Cosa Nostra mafia of Sicily, the 'Ndrangheta is much less well known.
What's in a name?
Originating in an area that was once, in classical times, under Greek domination, its name derives from the Greek word meaning "courage" or "loyalty," according to the FBI.