Mass trial of mafia mobsters starts in Italy

Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri has spent three decades battling Italy's most powerful mafia group.

On Wednesday (January 13), Italy launched one of the biggest trials ever of the mob because of it.

More than 320 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia clan and their associates face charges including extortion, drug-trafficking and theft.

The 'Ndrangheta, based in Calabria, is one of the largest organised crime groups in the world.

Gratteri said people are starting to speak out.

"Decades ago talking of Cosa Nostra or just pronouncing the word 'Ndrangheta was scary. They were words that were whispered in corridors or in homes by the fire. Today we talk about it openly, in the last two years we have had a surge in lawsuits from oppressed entrepreneurs and citizens, victims of usury, people who for years have lived under the threats of the 'Ndrangheta."

This police footage shows the arrest of more than 300 'Ndrangheta in a huge operation in 2019. Drugs were also seized.

Wednesday's trial recalls the case against hundreds of Cosa Nostra mafiosi in 1986, which marked the group's sharp decline - to 'Ndrangheta's benefit.

It's taking place in a converted call-center in Calabria, with defendants held in metal cages.

Many of the accused are white-collar workers in law, accounting, business, local politics and the police.

Gratteri, who never goes anywhere without an armed escort, says they willingly helped the 'Ndrangheta to build its crime empire.

The trial is expected to take a year.