Barbaro 'ndrina

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Barbaro 'ndrina
Founded 1950s
Founding location Castellace in the municipality of Oppido Mamertina, Calabria, Italy
Years active 1950s-present
Territory Platì, Buccinasco, near Milan and New South Wales in Australia
Ethnicity Calabrians
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion, kidnapping
Allies Papalia crime family
Rivals Mammoliti 'ndrina

The Barbaro 'ndrina is a powerful clan of the 'Ndrangheta, a criminal and mafia-type organisation in Calabria, Italy. The 'ndrina belongs to the locale of the town of Platì. The clan also has a strong presence in northern Italy, notably in Buccinasco, near Milan,[1] as well as in Australia, in particular in the Griffith, New South Wales area.[2]

In Calabria[edit]

Feud with the Mammoliti clan[edit]

The clan originally hailed from Castellace in the municipality of Oppido Mamertina. In the 1950s the clan was involved in a bloody feud with the Mammoliti 'ndrina. In October 1954, Domenico Barbaro killed Francesco Mammoliti, the head of the rival clan. On November 7, 1954, the Mammolitis retaliated and killed Francesco Barbaro and some others, an attack that was attributed to Vincenzo Mammoliti, who was acquitted by the court because of insufficient proof. On January 19, 1955, Giovanni Barbaro, the brother of Francesco, was killed with 31 gunshots.[3]

In the end the Mammoliti clan prevailed and the Barbaros moved to Platì. The feud lingered on until 1978, when Domenico Barbaro was killed in Perugia, after serving 26 years in prison for the murder of Francesco Mammoliti in 1954.[4] Around Antonio Barbaro, known as "u Nigru", and Francesco Barbaro, known as "'u Castanu", arose one of the most powerful clans of the 'Ndrangheta which also included the Perre, Trimboli, Agresti, Catanzariti, Sergi, Papalia, Musitano and Molluso clans. They are associated through blood relations, which center around the Barbaro clan.[5] After the death of Pasquale Agresta in 1974, Antonio Barbato took over the command over the group in Platì.[6]

King of kidnapping[edit]

The clan’s long-time boss, Francesco Barbaro "'u Castanu" was known as the king of kidnapping in the 1980s. Seventeen high profile kidnappings have been attributed to the clan.[7] Francesco was arrested on January 5, 1989.[8] Francesco’s son Giuseppe Barbaro took over the leadership of the clan. He was included in the list of most wanted fugitives in Italy until his arrest on December 10, 2001.[9] Another son of Francesco, Rocco Barbaro, was arrested on February 8, 2003.[10]

The arrest of Giuseppe Barbaro in 2001 led to the discovery of a complex underground fortress in the mountains in Platì that has been used by the local clans for decades. The tunnels – most running parallel to the town's sewer system – were sophisticated and in some places large enough to drive a lorry through. Remote-controlled trap doors lead into houses, some of them uninhabited, enabling the mafiosi to escape from the police. Some of the tunnels emerged outside the town close to woodland, while others open into animal pens and barns on local farms. Platì has been called the "cradle of kidnapping" and it is suspected that kidnap victims were held within the complex.[11]

The money extorted with kidnappings was invested in drug trafficking and construction in northern Italy, in particularly around Buccinasco, near Milan.[12] The clan participated in a cartel of 'Ndrangheta families involved in cocaine trafficking with the Mafia family of Mariano Agate.[13]

In Australia[edit]

Francesco 'Little Trees' Barbaro was named as a member of the Calabrian mafia by the Woodward Royal Commission, held following the disappearance of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay in 1977. He was born in 1937 in Platì and gained his nickname by planting citrus seedlings on his New South Wales farm. The Commission alleged Little Trees made a fortune from "activities associated with cannabis cultivation" and, along with Robert Trimbole and his brother-in-law Antonio Sergi (also born in Platì in 1935), was part of an organisation "comprised almost exclusively of persons of Calabrian descent, based in Griffith and Sydney, which engaged in the illicit cultivation, trafficking and distribution of cannabis" between 1974 and 1977.[14]

In August 2008, Australian 'Ndrangheta boss Pasquale (Pat) Barbaro – the son of Francesco – was involved in the importation of 15 million ecstasy (MDMA) pills through Melbourne, at the time the world's largest ecstasy haul. The pills were hidden in 3,000 tomato cans in a shipping container sent from Calabria. Barbaro was arrested in Carlton. Another shipping container, which arrived in Melbourne in July 2008, contained 150 kilograms (330 lb) of cocaine. The investigation also identified a money-laundering operation worth more than A$9 million.[15] In the early 1990s, Pat Barbaro was charged, and later cleared, in connection with a massive cannabis plantation on a Riverina farm.[16]

'Pat' Barbaro pleaded guilty in Victoria's Supreme Court to charges of ecstasy and cocaine trafficking. In May 2012 he was sentenced to life in prison with a 30-year minimum.[17]

Another Pasquale (Pas) Barbaro was gunned down and killed on November 14, 2016 in Earlwood, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney Australia. He was the nephew of Pasquale (Pat) Barbaro.[18] He was on bail awaiting trial on charges of manufacturing a commercial quantity of a prohibited substance and was facing up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. On 29 November four men, members of bikie gangs, were arrested and charged with Barbaros' murder.[19]


  1. ^ (in Italian) Boss alla milanese, L’espresso, December 27, 2007
  2. ^ Italian mafia laundering cocaine money Down Under Archived May 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.,, April 11, 2008
  3. ^ (in Italian) Esposizione introduttiva del Pubblico ministero nel processo nei confronti di Giulio Andreotti, Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia Palermo, 1994
  4. ^ Male heir born to Mammoliti, Il Giornale di Calabria, January 19, 1979, quoted in: Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 111
  5. ^ (in Italian) Relazione annuale sulla 'ndrangheta, Commissione parlamentare di inchiesta sul fenomeno della criminalità organizzata mafiosa o similare, February 2008
  6. ^ (in Italian) Gratteri & Nicaso, Fratelli di Sangue, p. 121
  7. ^ (in Italian) Chiave del " patto " Giuseppe Barbaro, il boss di Plati', Corriere della Sera, September 7, 1998
  8. ^ (in Italian) Catturato un boss dell'Anonima, La Repubblica, January 6, 1989
  9. ^ (in Italian) Preso Barbaro il superlatitante, La Repubblica, December 11, 2001
  10. ^ (in Italian) In manette Rocco Barbaro, La Repubblica, February 8, 2003
  11. ^ Vast underground Mafia stronghold found in Calabria, The Independent, July 31, 2002
  12. ^ (in Italian) Ma fu Ierinò a parlare di regia unica, La Repubblica, September 20, 1992
  13. ^ (in Italian) Italia. Uno degli affari di Cosa Nostra e 'Ndrangheta insieme, ADUC droghe, May 30, 2003
  14. ^ Lifting the lid on a drug ring, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2008
  15. ^ AFP lands 'world's biggest drug haul' Archived August 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.,, August 8, 2008
  16. ^ The Calabrian Connection Archived September 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., The Age, August 9, 2008
  17. ^ You say tomato, the court says life for largest drug bust, The Age, May 25, 2012
  18. ^ "Pasquale Barbaro, Sydney crime figure, shot dead in suspected targeted attack". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. November 15, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  19. ^ "Bikies behind bars after gangland arrests". SBS News. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). AAP. November 30, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.

Further reading[edit]