The Mafia's Secret Bunkers This World


The Mafia's Secret Bunkers

Author and mafia historian John Dickie uncovers the truth about Italy's most powerful mafia, the 'Ndrangheta', believed to be Europe's biggest cocaine traffickers.


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Transcript


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This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

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There's a new front line in the war against organised crime.

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Carabinieri!

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'In southern Italy's rugged highlands,

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'a previously unknown criminal group meets.'

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It was just about here that some of the top bosses were standing

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having their secret meeting.

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Called the Ndrangheta,

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its bosses are Europe's biggest cocaine traffickers.

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Carabinieri!

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The police are fighting back,

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forcing Mafiosi underground...

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..into bizarre and sophisticated bunkers.

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Holy moley.

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'From here, they run their criminal empires,

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'protected by a wall of silence.'

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They dug up the whole street to bury their bunkers...

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..and nobody breathed a word!

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This is the story of a little-known Mafia,

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whose secret inner workings are only now coming to light.

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This is Calabria,

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a beautiful and blighted region at the very tip of Italy's boot.

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As a historian, I've spent years studying Italian organised crime.

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Now I've come to this mountainous peninsula,

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a stone's throw from the island of Sicily,

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to investigate Italy's most mysterious and powerful Mafia,

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the Ndrangheta.

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The Cacciatore, the hunters, are an elite law-enforcement unit.

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They've agreed to take me deep into Ndrangheta territory.

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Lieutenant Angelo Zizzi and his men

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often have to operate under the cover of darkness.

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'After two-and-a-half hours

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'we reach a small village high up in the mountains.

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'It's four in the morning.'

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With the mist on the mountains here, and the silence,

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there's something really spooky about this place.

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'Now abandoned, this house was once used as a base

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'by Calabrian criminals.'

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There's something fiendishly clever about this mechanism,

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the kind of James Bond villain fashion.

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'The concealed entrance leads to a narrow passage.'

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It's pretty tight in here.

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'This secret hideout was discovered almost by chance

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'when the team were pursuing a group of Ndranghetan gangsters.

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'When Zizzi and his team first entered,

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'there was no sign of the men they were after.

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'What they'd stumbled upon was not just one concealed bunker,

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'it was a whole warren of underground passageways,

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'false walls and secret rooms.

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'The tunnels fan out under the village,

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'linking hideouts and escape routes.'

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So the tunnel system was a kind of map of the Ndrangheta network

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in this village.

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'It's a claustrophobic maze, completely disorientating.'

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This is a completely different house.

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It's a completely different house.

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Another secret entrance under the stairs

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and we're into a completely new house.

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Absolutely amazing.

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'By the time I got out, dawn had broken.'

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We came in somewhere over there!

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When the Cacciatore got into the first part of this system,

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there were six people in there.

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The Cacciatore had surrounded the whole area,

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and there was a chase through this bunker system

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with its different exits, each Cacciatore having to follow

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a different Ndranghetisti as he made his escape.

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Three of the Ndranghetisti got away,

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and having been through that system of tunnels, I can really see why.

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Building a subterranean labyrinth was a major enterprise.

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Somebody must have noticed all the work going on,

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but not a soul told the authorities.

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For more than a century, the men of the Ndrangheta

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have been the undisputed authority in these mountain villages.

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To understand the nature of their dominance,

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you need to understand the geography of Calabria.

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And that means taking to the air.

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This is very exciting... for two reasons -

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one, because I've never been in a helicopter before,

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and two, because now we're going to see

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some of the wildest parts of Calabria from the air.

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We took off from the city of Reggio Calabria,

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one of the Mafia power bases on the coast.

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But the heart of Ndrangheta territory is Aspromonte,

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"the harsh mountain".

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There's no other word for Aspromonte but majestic.

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An extraordinary sight!

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Aspromonte is inaccessible.

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The law has never had much of a foothold here.

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The Ndrangheta is a secret society of criminals,

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and for a long time these remote mountain settlements

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have been its fortresses.

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In the 1970s and '80s,

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the Ndrangheta took to kidnapping for ransom,

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using these remote mountains to hide the captives,

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often for years.

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Each of these villages is controlled by a different clan.

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If you know where to look, it's not hard to see who's in charge.

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We're about to fly over a villa

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that a Ndrangheta boss had built for himself. And he wanted it

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to look exactly like Tony Montana's villa in Scarface, the movie.

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I suppose all gangsters are gangster wannabes at heart.

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Today, the main source of the Ndrangheta's wealth and power

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lies 20 minutes' flight northwest, at the port of Gioia Tauro.

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Opened in the 1990s,

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Gioia Tauro is now the biggest container port in the Mediterranean.

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It should have been good news for this underdeveloped region.

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For the Ndrangheta,

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the port of Gioia Tauro is the hen that laid the golden eggs.

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Extorting a protection payment on every container is just the start.

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The main illegal business here is smuggling.

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TRANSLATION: Ordinary commercial routes are used as Trojan horses.

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From bananas to frozen prawns,

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from iron to hazelnuts.

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Any cargo shipped from South America to Europe,

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and the port of Gioia Tauro,

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can be used as cover for Ndrangheta's cocaine.

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Thousands of containers pass through the port every day.

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It's impossible to check and scan more than a handful of them.

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The best chance of catching the cocaine shipment

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is through intelligence on the ground,

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but even there, the criminals are often one step ahead.

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TRANSLATION: The Ndrangheta plant their own men in the port.

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Just like we watch them, they watch us.

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The sheer scale of this place is awe-inspiring.

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The ships are like tower blocks,

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the piles of containers go on for kilometres, and if you think

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that a big load of cocaine is about the size of a wardrobe,

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it makes it very clear that the old cliche

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about looking for a needle in a haystack just doesn't come close.

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It's estimated no more than 20% of the cocaine coming through the port

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is intercepted by the authorities.

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But even that amounts to an impressive haul.

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A 100,000 euros just for that,

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just for that and look at it.

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This is a whole wardrobe full of the stuff.

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And that's not all.

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Wow!

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'Three tons of pure cocaine have been seized here

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'in the last two years.'

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And of course this is only a tiny part of the total amount of cocaine

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that's flooding through the port of Gioia Tauro.

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This is quite extraordinary.

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The Calabrian Mafia, the Ndrangheta, is today the biggest

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cocaine-trafficking syndicate in Europe.

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The trade is global, but some of the profits end up close to home.

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Overlooking the port is the town of Rosarno -

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home to one of the Ndrangheta's most ruthless cells...

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..the Pesce clan.

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Carabinieri Special Agent Giuseppe Lumia

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knows more about the Pesce clan than anyone.

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As well as cocaine-trafficking,

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the Pesce clan grew rich from extortion and fraud.

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In this small, rundown town,

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the clan members enjoyed the good life,

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none more so than their chief, Ciccio Pesce.

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The house occupies a position like a baron's castle in the old days.

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At 30 years of age, Ciccio Pesce became the youngest known boss

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of an Ndrangheta clan. His swift rise to power

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was witnessed by a man who has since become one of the very few

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Calabrian Mafiosi to turn State witness.

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For security reasons, we can't reveal his identity.

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We'll call him Tony.

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What kind of man is Ciccio Pesce?

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TRANSLATION: I've known him since he was a child, Ciccio Pesce.

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When he was 14 or 15, on New Year's Eve,

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he went round town with his friends with some Kalashnikovs.

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He sprayed the streets and the shop shutters with bullets.

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There was no particular reason to do so. He just wanted to make a mess,

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because power was growing in his hands.

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Extreme violence was the basis of Ciccio Pesce's power.

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TRANSLATION: People respected him out of fear.

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They were scared of rebelling,

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because he'd become the absolute ruler of our area.

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As one of the poorest regions in Europe,

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Calabria received huge subsidies from the European Union

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for public construction works and farming. Mobsters like Ciccio Pesce

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have stolen much of that money.

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Tony helped Pesce make millions through a colossal scam involving...

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oranges!

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TRANSLATION: The oranges had to be delivered to a plant,

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but we wouldn't take anything there.

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We would take the paperwork the night before, however,

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and in the morning it would be signed by corrupt officials,

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saying the oranges had been delivered.

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After 90 days, we would receive the funds for the oranges

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from the European Union.

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And how much did you make in an average year?

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TRANSLATION: I was small fry, but in a good year

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I could make 300,000 to 400,000 euros from oranges.

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And a boss like Ciccio Pesce, how much would he make?

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Someone like Ciccio Pesce, who owned the farms, the plants,

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the transport companies, everything -

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he'd make, out of the oranges scam alone,

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some five to six million euros a year.

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The clan would invest the money in drugs and weapons,

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and they would double it, even treble it.

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The Ndrangheta is highly territorial.

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When they fall foul of the law,

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bosses like Ciccio Pesce very rarely take flight.

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Instead, they go to ground close to home.

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TRANSLATION: The man of honour, the leader, never leaves his own turf.

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For them, a bunker is a investment if someone needs to lay low for a while,

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hoping the police will lose interest in them.

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Many of these bunkers were made of old shipping containers,

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sunk into the soil of the orange groves

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and kitted out with everything a boss would need to lie low.

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Of course a bunker is only safe if its location is kept secret.

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In Calabria, where the Ndrangheta is more feared than the law,

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the blanket of silence known as Omerta

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is as thick as anywhere in Italy.

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So it's not surprising

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that not many people have broken the regime of Omerta.

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I'm on my way now to find out what happens when you do.

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I've been given an address some ten miles south of Rosarno.

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It looks like my arrival is being closely monitored.

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This fortified compound is where construction entrepreneur

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Gaetano Saffioti lives and works.

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'It's the only place Saffioti would agree to meet.'

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THEY EXCHANGE GREETINGS

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Saffioti's company grew from nothing

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into a multi-million-pound business

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until in 2002, the profits crashed.

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For years, like most businesses in the area,

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Saffioti had paid regular extortion money to the Ndrangheta,

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but as he became more successful,

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they wanted more and more control.

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When he tried to buy a plot of land, the mobsters made their move.

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TRANSLATION: And then what happened?

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One night they set fire to my bulldozer

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to tell me, "You've done something you shouldn't have."

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Saffioti turned to the state for help,

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but he soon learned who's really in charge in Calabria.

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I went to report who'd done it,

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I was told perhaps it's better you keep that to yourself -

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you know how these things end up -

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and my heart sank.

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And so there is this facade of a state and there is this real state,

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paradoxically, the real state is the Ndrangheta.

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The campaign of intimidation escalated.

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In the middle of the day, they showed up and threatened my staff,

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including my brother. They gave him a tank of petrol and told him,

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"Pour this petrol over the vehicle and set it alight."

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Saffioti had been pushed to the edge. He decided to fight back.

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For months, Saffioti risked his life to capture his tormentors on film,

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as they came for their pay-off,

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on this occasion, several thousand pounds.

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In an unprecedented act,

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Saffioti took this evidence to a public prosecutor.

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On the night of January 25th 2002,

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45 Ndrangheta members were arrested.

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But this was not the end of Saffioti's problems.

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When someone talks about one's life changing overnight,

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it may sound exaggerated.

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But in this case, my world was really turned upside down overnight.

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My 65 employees must have learnt about the arrests before they came

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out in the papers,

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because in the morning only five showed up for work.

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On the same day, all of our orders dried up.

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The banks closed my accounts, even the active ones,

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not just the overdrafts. Cancelling my overdrafts was bad enough,

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but I couldn't even withdraw my own money.

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It was completely absurd, I was ostracised by everyone,

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as if I'd become a terrible criminal.

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Many of Saffioti's friends shunned him.

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In Calabria, even law-abiding citizens wouldn't risk defying

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the Ndrangheta by being seen with a man like him.

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45 bullets, one for each of the men that Saffioti had had arrested.

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And then the police turned up. They said, ""e are here for you,

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"because from now on, you're under protection."

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That was it.

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The beginning.

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The situation in Calabria can seem incomprehensible at first glance,

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but to really understand what's going on there, we need to take

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a step back, or rather take a trip across the straits to Sicily.

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This beautiful island has long been home to the notorious Cosa Nostra.

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For the last 30 years, the Italian state has been struggling to contain

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the most powerful criminal organisation in modern history.

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Coming to Palermo today, you have to make an effort to remember

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that 25 years ago, this was a city in the grip of terror.

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The bloodiest Mafia war in history was going on.

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Hundreds of people were being killed, bodies were being left

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burning in the street or taken out to the sea and dumped.

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Cosa Nostra was killing magistrates,

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policemen, journalists, politicians.

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That violence reached its savage climax

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with the 1992 bombing assassinations of anti-Mafia judges

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Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

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Cosa Nostra had declared war on the state

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and seemed to be winning.

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TRANSLATION: It felt like the country was on its knees.

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If they were able to blow up a motorway and kill magistrates

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under the highest level of protection

0:27:110:27:14

and also kill our police colleagues escorting them,

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then I felt this was an extremely powerful and terrifying organisation

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which would stop at nothing.

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It's been a long, hard road for the state to win back credibility.

0:27:260:27:31

A key success came in 2006 when, after 43 years on the run,

0:27:310:27:36

Cosa Nostra's boss of bosses was finally arrested.

0:27:360:27:39

TRANSLATION: The uncatchable had been caught.

0:27:410:27:44

In that moment, the people felt a burst of courage

0:27:440:27:47

and wanted to show it by coming to our Palermo headquarters

0:27:470:27:50

to express solidarity with us,

0:27:500:27:53

and the belief that this battle could be won.

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If organised crime is to be defeated,

0:27:580:28:00

ordinary people need to be empowered to resist.

0:28:000:28:04

They have to believe that police and judges

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are not in the pay of the mobsters,

0:28:070:28:09

and that those who stand up to the Mafia will be protected.

0:28:090:28:13

Now, in Sicily, that is beginning to happen.

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We promote a sort of a rebellion, a cultural revolution again.

0:28:180:28:22

Edoardo Zaffuto is one of the founders of a grass-roots anti-Mafia group.

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Addio Pizzo, or Farewell Extortion,

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encourages ordinary Sicilians to come out and defy the Mafia.

0:28:300:28:34

Cosa Nostra works like a shadow state, using extortion as its tax.

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Sometimes the Mafia ask just 10, 15 euros per month,

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that's a nominal payment. It's important for the Mafia that here

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and at the fish shop, as well as the vegetable shop

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they accept to pay protection money.

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So how many people do you think actually pay protection money

0:28:570:29:01

-in this market, for example?

-80% of er...

-80%?

-Yes.

0:29:010:29:06

Just round the corner from the market

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is a shop selling traditional Sicilian caps.

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When we started our campaign we started to distribute these stickers

0:29:150:29:20

to the shopkeepers that are member of our campaign.

0:29:200:29:23

The stickers say, "I pay who does not pay."

0:29:230:29:26

So in a sense, I support those who say no to the Mafia.

0:29:260:29:31

It works like a sort of a beware to the dog sign,

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you know, so it says, as soon as you will dare to ask pizzo here,

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you will be immediately reported to the police. And the consumers

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they know for sure just seeing this sticker that in this shop, um,

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not a single cent, er, goes to the Mafia.

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800 businesses have joined Addio Pizzo's anti-extortion campaign.

0:30:510:30:56

In the huge task of eradicating the Mafia scourge,

0:30:560:31:00

this is a small start, but the potential is revolutionary.

0:31:000:31:05

Back in Calabria, the anti-Mafia fight is a generation behind.

0:31:080:31:13

In fact, as the state focused on Sicily,

0:31:130:31:17

the Ndrangheta grew unchecked.

0:31:170:31:19

TRANSLATION: While Cosa Nostra was committed to its strategy of terror,

0:31:210:31:25

the Ndrangheta made a completely different choice.

0:31:250:31:28

-TRANSLATION:

-They were not interested in a war against the state.

0:31:300:31:33

They bought the state. Piece by piece.

0:31:330:31:36

They seeped into it.

0:31:360:31:37

They didn't need to fight it.

0:31:370:31:40

Ndrangheta remained in the shadows,

0:31:430:31:45

and in the shadows it grew in strength, power, organisation.

0:31:450:31:50

And above all, in wealth.

0:31:500:31:53

The Calabrian Mafia thrived on neglect, unknown to the world.

0:31:560:32:02

Even most Italians struggle to pronounce its name.

0:32:020:32:06

Until one night in 2007.

0:32:060:32:09

On the 15th August,

0:32:100:32:12

a frantic call was received in a small village in Calabria.

0:32:120:32:16

A distraught caller asked for "The Mamma"...

0:32:200:32:23

..codename for a notorious Ndrangheta boss.

0:32:250:32:28

PHONE LINE DISCONNECTS

0:32:540:32:56

This dramatic call was not made from Calabria.

0:32:560:32:59

Not even from Italy.

0:32:590:33:01

It came from 1,000 miles away.

0:33:010:33:03

From the German city of Duisburg.

0:33:060:33:09

-TRANSLATION:

-They'd likely never seen anything like this in Germany.

0:33:150:33:19

At the scene, there were two cars.

0:33:210:33:24

Bodies splayed out,

0:33:240:33:25

the acrid smell of cordite that we are so used to here.

0:33:250:33:29

Blood running on the street.

0:33:290:33:32

This is a German street.

0:33:320:33:34

Clean, orderly, it's not the woods of Aspromonte.

0:33:340:33:39

Six men were murdered that night.

0:33:400:33:43

In the pocket of one of the victims,

0:33:440:33:46

baffled German police found a mysterious charred image.

0:33:460:33:49

Looking inside the pockets of those boys,

0:33:520:33:54

they found an image of St Michael the Archangel,

0:33:540:33:57

with a burnt hole in the centre.

0:33:570:33:59

That's what's used in the initiation ceremony

0:33:590:34:02

for young Ndrangheta members.

0:34:020:34:05

That was the business card of the Ndrangheta.

0:34:050:34:07

The dead men were Calabrian gangsters

0:34:100:34:12

investing their criminal profits in German hotels and restaurants.

0:34:120:34:16

But their murders were the result of a bloody feud back in Calabria.

0:34:160:34:21

For the world it was like a slap in the face.

0:34:240:34:26

What on earth is happening?

0:34:260:34:28

Where do these people come from? Who are they?

0:34:280:34:32

What is the Ndrangheta?

0:34:320:34:35

The killings stunned the Italian state into action.

0:34:350:34:38

Seasoned anti-Mafia investigators were recruited to lead a crackdown.

0:34:400:34:44

TRANSLATION: The Duisburg incident revealed

0:34:480:34:51

how dangerous Ndrangheta was.

0:34:510:34:52

And that made the state realise even more that it needed to act strongly

0:34:520:34:56

and decisively. And so it did.

0:34:560:34:59

Within months, police rounded up the foot soldiers of the feuding clans.

0:35:020:35:06

Grazie. Grazie.

0:35:080:35:09

But a key boss remained at large,

0:35:090:35:11

the ruthless, violent man nicknamed, "The Mamma".

0:35:110:35:15

TRANSLATION: When listening to the phone tabs,

0:35:210:35:24

we heard reference to "The Mamma".

0:35:240:35:25

We knew it was their codename for Antonio Pelle.

0:35:250:35:28

That's what he was known as.

0:35:280:35:31

But the hunt for Antonio Pelle

0:35:320:35:34

was to demonstrate just what investigators were up against.

0:35:340:35:37

In Calabria, fugitive bosses usually hide within their own communities,

0:35:390:35:43

protected by a wall of silence.

0:35:430:35:45

It was more than a year before a heavily armed squad

0:35:480:35:51

swooped on a deserted warehouse

0:35:510:35:54

just outside Pelle's home town.

0:35:540:35:57

Nothing suggested there might be a bunker or anything like that,

0:36:010:36:05

Until we noticed something about part of the floor

0:36:050:36:08

that made us suspicious.

0:36:080:36:10

Suddenly we see this platform coming up from the floor.

0:36:170:36:21

And then we hear the fugitive's voice from below.

0:36:330:36:37

Antonio Pelle.

0:36:410:36:42

Below the hydraulic lift,

0:37:030:37:05

police found a fully furnished living space.

0:37:050:37:08

TRANSLATION: The bunker was perfectly organised, like a flat.

0:37:120:37:16

It was one of the most sophisticated ever found in Calabria.

0:37:190:37:22

He even had a greenhouse to grow cannabis.

0:37:270:37:31

So his hobby, too, was taken care of.

0:37:310:37:33

The capture of Antonio Pelle was a major coup.

0:37:390:37:43

But when, two years later,

0:37:430:37:45

he mysteriously managed to escape from custody,

0:37:450:37:48

it became clear just how fragile

0:37:480:37:50

any victory against the Ndrangheta can be.

0:37:500:37:53

Scouring the mountainsides for fugitive bosses is important.

0:38:020:38:06

But to really attack the Ndrangheta, investigators needed to penetrate

0:38:110:38:16

the deepest secrets of its structure.

0:38:160:38:18

In 2009, they made a historic breakthrough.

0:38:230:38:28

It came in a secluded valley...

0:38:280:38:29

..at Polsi,

0:38:320:38:34

home to one of the oldest shrines in Italy.

0:38:340:38:37

BELL TOLLS

0:38:370:38:40

The Madonna of Polsi.

0:38:480:38:50

An object of religious veneration for centuries, a whole host

0:38:500:38:53

of miracles have been attributed to this statue.

0:38:530:38:57

Every year, a smaller wooden copy gets carried around the sanctuary

0:38:570:39:01

here in procession, while women bellow ancient hymns

0:39:010:39:05

and the crowd shouts, "Viva, Maria".

0:39:050:39:07

This is one of the holiest places in Southern Italy, but it's also

0:39:090:39:12

a place with a very sinister history.

0:39:120:39:16

Thousands of believers come to this shrine every summer.

0:39:200:39:23

It was long suspected that Mafiosi used the pilgrimage as cover,

0:39:270:39:31

but for what?

0:39:310:39:33

Then, in 2009,

0:39:330:39:35

undercover agents spotted a very different kind of pilgrim.

0:39:350:39:40

It's just about here on 2nd of September, 2009,

0:39:420:39:47

that some of the top bosses in the Ndrangheta was standing

0:39:470:39:50

in a circle, as Ndrangheta tradition dictates,

0:39:500:39:54

having their secret meeting.

0:39:540:39:57

Little did they know that the Carabinieri were filming them.

0:39:570:40:00

The men spoke in a quasi-religious code.

0:40:020:40:05

TRANSLATION: The scene we witnessed in Polsi

0:40:220:40:25

harks back to ancient rituals and mysticism.

0:40:250:40:27

But really it has little to do with religion and more to do with crime.

0:40:270:40:33

Investigators had filmed a scene that surpassed Hollywood fiction.

0:40:360:40:40

The highest body of the Ndrangheta.

0:40:400:40:44

In full session.

0:40:440:40:47

This previously unknown ruling council had a name.

0:40:530:40:57

Il Crimine, "the crime".

0:40:570:40:59

TRANSLATION: The Ndrangheta was believed to be

0:41:070:41:09

a family-based organisation, with lots of families.

0:41:090:41:12

Some more, some less organised,

0:41:120:41:14

clashing with each other, making alliances...

0:41:140:41:18

Instead, a new structure emerged. Hierarchical and pyramid-like.

0:41:210:41:26

Similar to the Sicilian Mafia.

0:41:260:41:28

With a provincial executive deciding the criminal strategy.

0:41:280:41:32

Not only here in Reggio Calabria, but also in Italy,

0:41:320:41:35

Europe and around the world.

0:41:350:41:39

What months of investigation revealed

0:41:390:41:41

was a global Mafia federation,

0:41:410:41:44

with an annual turnover estimated at 44 billion euros.

0:41:440:41:49

If accurate, that figure would be the equivalent

0:41:490:41:52

of 3% of Italy's entire economic output.

0:41:520:41:57

The state offensive also revealed the extraordinary lengths

0:42:020:42:05

that Ndrangheta bosses will go to protect their power.

0:42:050:42:09

To evade capture and continue to operate,

0:42:090:42:13

they've built hundreds of bunkers.

0:42:130:42:15

Many are ingeniously concealed beneath water tanks.

0:42:200:42:25

Behind radiators.

0:42:250:42:28

Wine racks.

0:42:280:42:30

Or apparently solid walls.

0:42:310:42:34

The elite unit known as the Cacciatore,

0:42:340:42:37

or "hunters", were keen to show me one of their particular favourites.

0:42:370:42:42

And this has never cooked a single margarita in its life.

0:43:080:43:12

And that was one of the clues that told the Cacciatore

0:43:120:43:16

that there was something fishy about this particular oven.

0:43:160:43:20

A door inside the oven slides back on tracks,

0:43:290:43:34

revealing a 30-metre corridor dug deep

0:43:340:43:36

into the hillside behind the house.

0:43:360:43:39

Holy moley.

0:43:500:43:53

This was once a rather nice bedroom suite

0:43:530:43:57

complete with mirrors, stereo, TV,

0:43:570:44:03

bedroom furniture, heater...

0:44:030:44:06

This was clearly a perfectly decent living space once upon a time.

0:44:060:44:12

So we've come through the pizza oven down the tunnel,

0:44:150:44:20

through the bedroom, into the bathroom

0:44:200:44:24

and there's another secret entrance here leading, who knows where.

0:44:240:44:29

Here there are tunnels, leading to bunkers,

0:44:290:44:32

leading to more tunnels, leading to more bunkers.

0:44:320:44:36

There's a kind of madness at work here.

0:44:360:44:39

The Ndrangheta has also dug itself deep into Calabrian society.

0:44:570:45:02

And to do that, it draws on more than just violence and intimidation.

0:45:020:45:06

Bribery, corruption and political patronage

0:45:060:45:10

have won some key players over to the Ndrangheta's side.

0:45:100:45:14

TRANSLATION: Unfortunately the characteristic of the Ndrangheta

0:45:180:45:21

is that it's not only a criminal power,

0:45:210:45:23

it also penetrates all layers of social and professional life.

0:45:230:45:27

-TRANSLATION:

-It's the collusion with politics, institutions

0:45:300:45:33

and the business world, that's what strengthens the organisation.

0:45:330:45:37

TRANSLATION: Power to buy people, power to offer someone a job,

0:45:400:45:44

power to buy an official, a magistrate, a police officer.

0:45:440:45:48

This is what money does.

0:45:480:45:50

Calabria's institutions have been profoundly infiltrated.

0:45:530:45:56

In 2012, the city council of Reggio Calabria

0:45:560:46:00

was suspended by Italy's national government.

0:46:000:46:04

The reason? Links to organised crime.

0:46:040:46:08

The rise of the Pesce clan and its young boss, Ciccio,

0:46:080:46:11

is a typical tale of Mafia power.

0:46:110:46:14

TRANSLATION: Since we were kids, we've been taught

0:46:160:46:18

that every man has his price. Ciccio Pesce was like the mayor.

0:46:180:46:23

By 2010, investigators had amassed enough evidence

0:46:230:46:27

to put Ciccio Pesce on trial, and raided his hilltop mansion.

0:46:270:46:32

Here, too, they found a bunker.

0:46:350:46:38

But of the boss himself, hardly any trace.

0:46:380:46:42

It was evidence that the gangsters hold the real power in the region.

0:46:420:46:47

TRANSLATION: If we don't catch a fugitive

0:46:490:46:51

it is because the state has failed.

0:46:510:46:54

And people can't quite comprehend why some fugitives

0:46:540:46:57

can be on the run for so long.

0:46:570:46:59

Catching Ciccio Pesce became an absolute priority.

0:47:010:47:06

A special Carabinieri team began looking for a lead,

0:47:060:47:10

and for a bunker.

0:47:100:47:11

They concentrated on what they knew Ciccio Pesce could not live without.

0:47:110:47:17

TRANSLATION: Football and beautiful women,

0:47:190:47:21

it was difficult for him to bring a football pitch inside a bunker,

0:47:210:47:24

but a woman would definitely have been easier.

0:47:240:47:28

And so we concentrated on one woman in particular.

0:47:280:47:31

This girl was different from all the others,

0:47:370:47:40

because she had a lifestyle that didn't match her means.

0:47:400:47:43

So the boyfriend must have been rich, but we didn't see one.

0:47:490:47:53

She took too much care of herself to be a single woman.

0:47:530:47:56

We studied her habits, we began to follow her day and night.

0:47:560:48:00

For months, surveillance was trained

0:48:040:48:06

on Ciccio Pesce's suspected mistress.

0:48:060:48:09

Until one day, there was a breakthrough.

0:48:090:48:12

A car turned up outside the woman's house.

0:48:120:48:18

TRANSLATION: We recognised the driver,

0:48:180:48:20

he was the armourer of the Pesce clan,

0:48:200:48:22

a man in contact with Ciccio Pesce.

0:48:220:48:26

The investigators thought this man could be carrying messages

0:48:260:48:30

between Pesce and his mistress.

0:48:300:48:32

They tracked him to an isolated scrap yard,

0:48:340:48:37

a couple of miles outside Rosarno.

0:48:370:48:40

TRANSLATION: Surveillance was difficult in this area,

0:48:450:48:47

because there was no cover.

0:48:470:48:50

It was impossible to go right up there

0:48:500:48:52

and get a close look without being seen.

0:48:520:48:55

This was a big problem for us.

0:48:550:48:58

Faced with such difficulties on the ground,

0:48:590:49:02

those hunting the Ndrangheta bosses can now call on help from above.

0:49:020:49:08

These observation windows are absolutely amazing,

0:49:160:49:19

you can stick your head literally out of the fuselage of the aircraft

0:49:190:49:23

and look straight down.

0:49:230:49:26

The Italian Government has invested millions

0:49:260:49:28

in state-of-the-art spy planes like this one.

0:49:280:49:32

We're at something like 2,500 feet at the moment

0:50:250:50:28

and when they do these extraordinary zooms,

0:50:280:50:31

they tell me that even from several kilometres away,

0:50:310:50:35

they can identify the number plate on a car.

0:50:350:50:38

Investigators were trawling through all conceivable evidence

0:50:570:51:01

about the scrap yard, suspected of being Pesce's lair.

0:51:010:51:07

TRANSLATION: And so we began to get hold of satellite images

0:51:070:51:10

of the previous two year period.

0:51:100:51:13

We were looking to identify structural changes made to the area.

0:51:130:51:19

And then we got lucky.

0:51:210:51:25

The presence of a bulldozer, wooden boards to spread mortar,

0:51:250:51:29

heaps of cement mix, sand, the cement mixer...

0:51:290:51:33

The photo showed that six months earlier, builders had been at work,

0:51:330:51:38

but there was no evidence of any new buildings.

0:51:380:51:41

At least not ABOVE ground.

0:51:410:51:43

In fact, as the Carabinieri entered

0:52:240:52:26

and searched every inch of the compound,

0:52:260:52:29

secret cameras were trained on THEM.

0:52:290:52:32

The owner of the compound finally appeared

0:52:320:52:35

and reluctantly led Lumia and his men to a chicken coup.

0:52:350:52:39

A few moments later, the trapdoor opens.

0:52:460:52:49

TRANSLATION: He comes out and he's white, like a corpse.

0:52:530:52:56

He's lost 15 kilos.

0:52:560:52:59

But we had recognised his voice when he'd shouted from the tomb

0:52:590:53:02

in which he'd buried himself for months.

0:53:020:53:04

We'd got him.

0:53:050:53:08

The hunt for one of Italy's most dangerous men was over.

0:53:150:53:19

The bunker had been Pesce's command centre for months.

0:53:430:53:47

Through a dozen CCTV cameras, he watched his hunters closing in.

0:53:510:53:56

That gave him just enough time to destroy any incriminating evidence.

0:53:560:54:00

Pesce has begun a 20-year prison sentence.

0:54:270:54:30

Now the Italian state is putting 64 alleged members

0:54:300:54:34

of his clan on trial.

0:54:340:54:37

Ironically, they're being tried in a so called bunker courtroom,

0:54:370:54:41

bomb-proof and several metres underground.

0:54:410:54:45

This is one of the first major trials against the Ndrangheta

0:54:520:54:55

since its secret structure was revealed.

0:54:550:54:58

The state is trying to show that it can fight the Mafia and win.

0:54:580:55:03

The stakes are high and not only for Italy.

0:55:030:55:07

TRANSLATION: Ndrangheta clones its own criminal structure, multiplies it

0:55:090:55:13

and plants itself in new territories.

0:55:130:55:16

In Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany.

0:55:180:55:22

There is no bit of territory, no social category which is immune

0:55:250:55:31

from the possibility of contagion by the Ndrangheta, by the Mafia.

0:55:310:55:37

There isn't any.

0:55:370:55:39

But even the vast resources being poured into the fight

0:55:390:55:43

against the Ndrangheta can only begin to tackle the problem.

0:55:430:55:48

TRANSLATION: We can arrest 100, 200, 300

0:55:480:55:52

but there will always be offspring ready to take the reins of the clan.

0:55:520:55:56

Until Calabrian society stops shaking the hand of the Mafioso,

0:55:580:56:03

pretending not to know he is a Mafioso.

0:56:030:56:06

Until that happens, there's no chance of uprooting the weed.

0:56:060:56:11

-TRANSLATION:

-The battle in Calabria is still tough.

0:56:150:56:20

It's still difficult.

0:56:200:56:22

In Sicily, it took years of fighting to get results.

0:56:220:56:25

Public opinion, the people must be reassured the state is strong.

0:56:250:56:29

Credible and in charge.

0:56:290:56:32

In Calabria, the road is still long.

0:56:320:56:36

It's more than ten years since businessman Gaetano Saffioti

0:56:380:56:42

took his brave stand and defied the Ndrangheta.

0:56:420:56:46

He is still a pariah and a prisoner in his own community.

0:56:460:56:52

TRANSLATION: Here WE are in a kind of bunker.

0:56:520:56:56

It's the price you have to pay.

0:56:560:56:59

I pay this willingly for what I set out to achieve.

0:56:590:57:05

But only when there are many of us,

0:57:050:57:07

then I'll be able to call myself completely free.

0:57:070:57:10

Free to walk around like everyone else, to go for a ride on my bike.

0:57:100:57:15

To go to the beach, to watch the sea and swim.

0:57:150:57:19

All these things that normal people do, but I'm prevented from doing.

0:57:190:57:24

Sooner or later, it will happen.

0:57:240:57:27

We need more time, but it will happen.

0:57:270:57:31

I'm sure of it.

0:57:310:57:33

What I've seen in Calabria are scenes from a war,

0:57:520:57:57

a war that the rest of the world doesn't even know is going on.

0:57:570:58:01

The tragedy of this land is that it took so long

0:58:010:58:04

for the Italian state to begin a serious fight back.

0:58:040:58:08

But having seen what I've seen on this journey, I have a hope,

0:58:080:58:14

a belief, that the tide of history has finally begun to turn.

0:58:140:58:20

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:300:58:34

Italy's most powerful organised crime group is no longer Sicily's Cosa Nostra but the 'Ndrangheta', a shadowy Mafia from the southern region of Calabria.

With unique access to the extraordinary underground bunkers the gangsters use for hiding out and to the hi-tech war being fought by the Italian authorities against this murderous criminal brotherhood, author and mafia historian John Dickie uncovers the truth about Europe's biggest cocaine traffickers.

This is a world of special forces, spy planes and super grasses, as well as a culture of fear and silence where people simply do not trust the Italian state to defeat the Mafiosi.


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