Testimony begins Wednesday in Italy in the country’s largest organized crime trial in more than three decades.
More than 350 defendants will stand in the dock in a specially-built high security courtroom in the southern town of Lamezia Terme, in Italy’s Calabrian region, home of the powerful mafia-like 'Ndrangheta empire. As many as 900 witnesses will testify in a trial that is expected to last as long as a year, if not longer.
Prosecutors are focusing their efforts primarily on the 'Ndrangheta’s Mancuso family, which controls the Vibo Valentia area of Calabria. The defendants, including Mancuso blood relatives, disgraced politicians, lawyers, businessmen, law enforcement officials and others, are facing a host of crimes dating back decades, including murder, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.
The 'Ndrangheta’s various worldwide illicit and legitimate enterprises bring in an estimated $61 billion per year for the syndicate.
A similar so-called “maxi-trial” in 1986 led to the convictions of more than 300 members and associates of Sicily’s notorious Cosa Nostra crime family.