Defiant illegal gambling mafia in Italy to go on trial this week

Poker cards and chips
Poker cards and chips

Calabria, Italy is about to be overrun this week. The city is going to be the site of one of the largest trials in the history of the country, with 355 people suspected of being tied to the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate ready to face a judge, according to a report by the Daily Mail. This is the same mafia that has ties to organized crime around the world, including the operation of drug trafficking outlets and illegal casinos and sportsbooks in a number of countries. It’s also the same group that is said to be linked to Wirecard, the failed payment processing company that went under after as much as $3 billion went missing last year. 

Calabria is now under siege, but not by a military force. Instead, it is overwhelmed by security personnel and police trying to keep everyone safe. The public prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, has had police protection for over 30 years as he continued to try to bring an end to organized crime in Italy. When supposed mafia members have had to appear in court in previous years, there has been no shortage of bloodshed, with mobsters willing to murder prosecutors, witnesses and anyone else who might help send them to jail. 

Reports have asserted over the years that the ‘Ndrangheta syndicate has operated over 1,500 betting shops and around 82 online gambling sites. It has also trafficked in cocaine and illegal arms, supported a large refugee center in Europe and has no limits on what it’s willing to do to gain more power. 68 people tied to the mob were arrested in an anti-mafia raid recently, but that didn’t stop the organization, with its global reach, from being able to pick up and continue on.

This time, though, things are a little different. As the new trial is set to get underway, prosecutors have been able to find assistance from the son of one of the syndicate’s mob bosses. Emanuele Mancuso has been helped the government build its case and has been under police protection, but is still a potential target should someone look to seek revenge on him for turning his back on the family.

The courtroom where the trial will be held isn’t even a courtroom – there wasn’t one big enough to hold all the players. Instead, a call center had to be converted so that everyone could be corralled into a single space. Those on trial, including alleged boss Luigi Mancuso’s “The Uncle,” “The Wolf,” “Fatty,” “Sweetie,” “Blondie,” “Little Goat” and “The Wringer,” will be locked in cages during the trial, a prelude of what to expect should they be found guilty. The trial is going to last about two years.