Contrary to popular belief, not all forms of organized crime
in Italy are actually called the "Mafia
" nor are they all based out of Sicily
. Each region is controlled by different groups of people and in each of the regions, there is a different name for that group. Even stranger, each region is known for specializing in a certain type of crime. In Calabria
, the region that you might recognize as the toe of the boot
, the crime families are known as the 'ndrangheta
Calabria is a mountainous, craggy region, which has created small family-run organizations that are not quite as unified as La Cosa Nostra (the Sicilian mafia). However, the complex landscape of the region also allows the 'ndrangheta to make money off of kidnapping. They go up to northern Italy, kidnap a weathly industrialist or politician and then hold them captive in the hills of Calabria. If the family of the person kidnapped refuses to negotiate, or gets the police involved, the kidnappers will typically start cutting off some of the smaller body parts off their victim (usually starting with the ear). At this point, almost every family ends up paying the huge ransom or else the victim is killed.
Recently, like most Mafia-like organizations, the 'ndrangheta has taken to running drugs, mostly heroin throughout the world. They have some presence in North America, allegedly in Canada and have appeared in random places like the coal mines of Pennsylvania as well.
All of these organizations exist in Italy because throughout history, southern Italy has been ruled from without, by some sort of colonizing power (North Africans, the French, the Hapsburgs, and even the current Italian government) and, as a result, there is usually a huge opportunity to make money by setting up an alternative set of laws and business. This is where organizations such as the 'ndrangheta, the Camorra (in Naples), La Cosa Nostra (in Siciliy) and, recently, Sacra Corona Unita (in Puglia) orginate. While recent attempts to control these groups have largely succeeded, they are still in existence through most of southern Italy.