A courageous Italian judge is doing his part to break up the family “business” in Calabria, Italy. Less famous than the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, but more powerful, the “Ndrangheta” crime syndicate’s 6,000 members are centered in southern Italy, but their criminal tentacles reach markets in Argentina, Australia, Canada and Columbia.
Judge Roberto di Bello’s campaign to remove young male teenagers from their Mafioso families is driven by his desire to break the cycle that “transmits negative cultural values from father to son”.
As president of the juvenile court in Reggio Calabria, when young men start to get into trouble whether it be petty crime or bullying behavior, Judge di Bello takes drastic action, removing them from their homes with strict rules that allow infrequent home visits.
Di Bello says “our objective is to show these young men a different world from the one they grew up in, if you are a boy whose father, uncle or grandfather is a mafioso, then there’s no-one who can set rules – and we provide them with a context.”
Working with social workers and psychologists, the hope of the program is that when the youngsters are free to return home permanently – at the age of 18 – they will chose not to enter the criminal underworld.
The economic influence of the Ndrangheta, which means “courage”, is robust and is said to represent 3.5% of Italy’s gross domestic product. Their stock in trade is drug trafficking, extortion, and money-laundering, producing annual revenue of $50 to $60 billion dollars a year.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang