Torching a toddler's body after shooting him in the head as he sat in his family's Fiat Punto ranks as one of the most evil crimes committed by the Italian Mafia.
Strapped in by his seatbelt, Nicola “Coco” Campolongo was just three years old in 2014 when he, his drug-dealer grandad Giuseppe Iannicelli and his girlfriend were murdered in the town of Cassano allo Ionio.
Iannicelli was targeted by the Ndrangheta mafia after operating on their turf, and thought bringing little Coco on drug runs with him would put off an attack — but he was wrong, the Mirror reports.
The crime group, which has roots as far back as 19th century militia and debt collectors, made a fortune in the 1970s and 80s by kidnapping rich targets.
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John Paul Getty’s grandson had his ear cut off and sent to his family in just one notorious example.
Since the 1990s the Ndrangheta has specialised in trafficking cocaine to the US, Germany, Canada, Australia and the UK.
Taking advantage of the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on small businesses, the mafia has offered employers and unemployed workers cash loans to tighten their grip on the streets of Calabria.
Torched or blown-up cars are a trademark mob attack which was used on prosecutor and judge Giovanni Falcone and his wife in 1992 by the Sicilian mafia.
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Current police prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, 62, has been branded a "dead man walking" for spearheading Italy's ultimate challenge of taking down the mafia once and for all.
Earlier this week, Gratteri led proceedings in the “maxi trial” of 325 mobsters and their alleged associates – the biggest mafia trial in Italy for more than three decades.
A long list of charges includes murder, extortion, money-laundering and drug trafficking.
Gratteri and his team face an enormous task and all the time, the threat on his life exists.
He has lived under armed guard for almost half of his life and says he hasn't been to a restaurant in 20 years.
Gratteri helped prosecute the watershed 2011 trials which proved the existence of the Ndrangheta mafia as a crime organisation rooted in Calabria but which flexes its muscles from Italy to New York and South America.
He describes the modern mafia as evolving and less likely to use violence – but no less dangerous.
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