Italy’s main crime syndicates beyond the Godfather

Cosa Nostra boss Matteo Messina Denaro was taken away by police after he was arrested earlier this year. Reuters

Rome: Cosa Nostra received a lot of attention due to the extraordinary coverage Hollywood. However, Italy is home to several other organized crime groups. Among them is “Fourth Mafia”, based in Foggia in the southeast, which has gained a reputation for its violent tactics.

The group is one of the four main Italian mafias currently operating in the country. Here’s a closer look at each of these organized crime syndicates.

Cosa Nostra

When most people think of the Mafia, they think of the “Godfather” movies, which were inspired by the Cosa Nostra.

For years, the Sicilian Mafia terrorized the Italian people and the state, with the 1992 killings of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino among the worst.

But the attacks have brought with them severe state sanctions that have eroded his power, with the latest blow coming in January with the capture of Cosa Nostra boss Matteo Messina Denaro after 30 years on the run.

According to the latest report by Italy’s anti-mafia investigators (DIA), in recent years Cosa Nostra has shifted to low-profile tactics of infiltrating local public administration and businesses, and has ties abroad, particularly As with New York.


Rooted in the impoverished southern region of Calabria, the once-rural ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s richest and most powerful mafia, with a growing global reach that now spans more than 40 countries.

The ‘Ndrangheta’s family-based clan network is heavily involved in drug trafficking, controlling large quantities of cocaine in Europe. According to the DIA, the group is a “privileged partner” of South American drug manufacturers.

Illegal profits from drugs, extortion and public contract rigging are laundered and reinvested in the legal economy, from real estate to finance, making the ‘Ndrangheta’s billions increasingly difficult to trace.

Despite being scary at times Crimes Like dissolving victims in acid, the ‘Ndrangheta now prefers to operate under the radar. A massive “maxi trial” opened in 2021 with more than 300 defendants, accusing politicians, lawyers and businessmen of enabling the entrapment.


The Camorra operates throughout the southern Campania region and its capital city of Naples, with its clans controlling various regions.

The lack of a family-based structure like the ‘Ndrangheta results in frequent feuds between clans and the impoverished, crowded city of Naples, where the use of teenage recruits helps the mafia maintain its grip.

Outside of Italy, the Camorra is best known from Roberto Saviano’s 2006 book, “Gomorrah,” which was later turned into a film and television series, about the mafia around Scampia’s glamorous housing projects. Described the operations of what was once considered Europe’s largest open-air drug market.

In addition to drug trafficking, contract fixing and infiltrating local public institutions, the Camorra has been heavily involved in the illegal dumping of toxic waste that has polluted vast areas around Naples.

Outside of Italy, the Camorra has most of its drug-trafficking and money-laundering interests in Spain.

Foggia Mafia.

Sometimes known as Italy’s “Fourth Mafia”, the mafia operating in the vast province of Foggia in the southern region of Puglia is the country’s youngest, and least developed, originating from the Camorra. has happened

Today authorities consider it Italy’s most violent organized crime syndicate, as its many battalions jockey for position, committing a wide array of crimes.

Extortion from local businesses and farmers is rampant, as well as drug trafficking — with drugs flowing in from Albania — armed robbery, theft of property for ransom and deal-fixing.

The Foggia mafia has recently become increasingly successful in infiltrating government institutions, unnerving the authorities, while high rates of juvenile crime have fueled a sense of insecurity among locals.

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