Italy’s feared ’Ndrangheta mafia clan spread tentacles into Tuscany
19 Apr 2021

Italy’s most dangerous mafia clan has moved into Tuscany, buying businesses, dumping toxic waste in streams and using it to lay the foundation for roads through one of Italy’s most verdant regions, prosecutors claim.

The ’Ndrangheta mafia from Calabria in southern Italy is accused of corrupting Tuscan politicians, winning public contracts through intimidation and turning the port of Livorno into a European entry point for cocaine.

Magistrates who ordered 23 arrests of mafia-linked suspects allege that the mobsters’ Tuscan operation centred on the leather industry around Santa Croce sull’Arno, which employs 6,000 and produces a third of Italy’s leather.

Entrepreneurs linked to the Gallace clan, one of the groups making up the ’Ndrangheta, are thought to have taken over the handling of chemical waste in the tanning process, maximising profit by illegally tipping it into rivers and streams. About 8,000 tonnes of the waste was mixed with other material and allegedly used as the foundation for a road built between Empoli and the walled, hilltop town of Castelfiorentino.

“The ’Ndrangheta has never set up local chapters in Tuscany, but this [inquiry] reveals they have established firms which grab business through graft while becoming a kind of criminal nexus, which allows them to switch toxic waste from the leather to the road-building business,” Alberto Vannucci, a mafia expert at the University of Pisa, said.

Prosecutors are investigating politicians who they suspect were corrupted by the mob and curried favour with officials in Florence.

Already well established in Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Liguria, the ’Ndrangheta has overtaken Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and the Naples Camorra. The ’Ndrangheta’s big money spinner is cocaine from Latin American. Its “blood ties”mean that few informants are ready to give up its secrets.

Bosses will be fearful, however, after reports that Nicolino Grande Aracri, 62, a senior jailed figure in the ’Ndrangheta, is revealing all to the prosecutor Nicola Gratteri. Grande Aracri took over the Calabrian province of Crotone after ordering killers to attack a rival’s armoured car with a bazooka.

“In the ’Ndrangheta hierarchy, the head of Crotone province has a relationship of equals with the so-called Crimine, the head of the powerful province of Reggio Calabria that dominates the mafia,” Anna Sergi, a mafia expert at the University of Essex, said. “So that makes Grande Aracri effectively the No 2 in the ’Ndrangheta.We don’t know who the No 1 is.”

By Tom Kington, The Times, 19 April 2021

Read more at The Times

Photo (cropped and edited): Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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