Mammoliti 'ndrina

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Mammoliti 'ndrina
Founding locationGioia Tauro plain, Calabria, Italy
Years active1930s-present
TerritoryGioia Tauro plain and Milan in Italy
Criminal activitiesRacketeering, kidnapping and extortion

The Mammoliti 'ndrina is a powerful clan of the 'Ndrangheta, a criminal and mafia-type organisation in Calabria, Italy. The 'ndrina is based in Castellace and Oppido Mamertina in the plain of Gioia Tauro in southern Calabria on the Tyrrhenian coast. The clan is considered to be one of the more powerful in the area, and is closely linked to the Rugolo clan through intermarriage. They are often referred to as the Mammoliti-Rugolo clan.[1]

Feud with the Barbaro clan[edit]

In the 1950s the Mammoliti clan was involved in a bloody feud in Castellace with the Barbaro 'ndrina. In October 1954, the head of the clan, Francesco Mammoliti, was killed by Domenico Barbaro. On November 7, 1954, the Mammolitis retaliated and killed Francesco Barbaro and some others, an attack that was attributed to Francesco's son 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. Again Vincenzo was acquitted, but his brother Antonino Mammoliti was convicted for murder.[2]

In the end the Mammoliti clan prevailed and the Barbaro clan 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.[3] Francesco's sons, Vincenzo and Saverio Saro Mammoliti took over the command of the clan seconded by their other brother Antonino Mammoliti. Blood relatives represented the interests in the city council of their area of interest.[4] The Mammoliti-Rugolo clan is closely linked to the Piromalli 'ndrina and the Mazzafero 'ndrina.[2]

Criminal enterprise[edit]

Since the 1950s powerful 'Ndrangheta families, such as the Mammolitis and the Piromallis, launched into broad-scale expropriations of land and full-blown entrepreneurship, financing their operations by intercepting government development funds or by kidnapping the children of rich industrialists. The Mammoliti clan acquired the property or the direct or indirect control over wide extensions of land in Castellace, Oppido and Santa Cristina in the Gioia Tauro plain. They forced most landowners to sell their properties at a price much lower than the market one, by imposing heavy extortion taxes or by damaging their trees and products. When they did not succeed in obtaining legal ownership of the lands, they frequently gained de facto control of the farms, selling the products and even collecting the relative farming subsidies.[5]

One of the landed proprietors ruined by the expansion of the clan described the rise of the clan at the end of the 1970s: “A few years ago Vincenzo Mammoliti used to earn a paltry amount from his dishonest dealings as a watchman in the citrus orchards. Now he travels around in de luxe cars, he has bought up factories and land, and people say he has accumulated a fortune worth hundreds of millions [lire].”[6]

Getty kidnap[edit]

Vincenzo and Saro Mammoliti were charged with the kidnap of John Paul Getty III on July 10, 1973, in Rome.[7] Nine men eventually were arrested (including Vincenzo who was arrested on January 16, 1974[8]). Two were convicted and sent to prison. The others, including Girolamo Piromalli and Saro Mammoliti, were acquitted for lack of evidence. Mammoliti, a fugitive at the time, was convicted for drug trafficking.[9][10][11] Nevertheless, after he decided to collaborate with Italian justice, Saro Mammoliti confessed to have been involved in the kidnap.[12][13]

The ransom of approximately US$3 million was invested in the trucks with which the 'Ndrangheta won all the transportation contracts for the container port of Gioia Tauro.[9][14] (This turned out to be one of the biggest development white elephants in Italian history: only the Mafia ever made any serious money from it.)[9]

Cordopatri case[edit]

The Mammolitis also exploited the estates belonging to the Cordopatri family. The Mammolitis through a front man, who paid only a symbolic rent, exploited the estates belonging to the family from 1964 up to the late 1980s. When baron Francesco Cordopatri finally succeeded in recovering control of the property in 1990, he was unable to pick the olives because local labourers systematically turned down his offers of employment, afraid of offending the Mammolitis. After his murder in July 1991, his sister Teresa Cordopatri attempted to continue, but she too faced insurmountable problems.[5]

The case made the national and international headlines in the summer of 1994 when the Finance Ministry threatened to confiscate the property for not paying taxes on the land (whose products her family had not enjoyed since the 1960s). was the resistance of the baroness Cardopatri resisted the confiscation and she started a hunger strike outside the law courts in Reggio Calabria. Cardopatri was granted an extension to pay her taxes and the decade-long territorial expansion of the Mammoliti family began to be halted.[5][9]

Peace among the olive trees[edit]

Judge Salvatore Boemi – investigating the murder of Francesco Cordopatri – ordered the arrest of 35 members of the Mammoliti clan, Saro Mammoliti included, in an operation dubbed ‘Peace among the olive trees’. Arrests were made in June and August 1992.[9][15][16] Charges include allegations of the murder; six bomb attacks; 19 arson attacks; the destruction of 1,100 olive, citrus and kiwi trees in 15 separate incursions, and 14 instances of agricultural equipment stolen.[17]

Thanks almost exclusively to the baroness Cordopatri's testimony, Salvatore La Rosa – the material killer of her brother was sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Saro Mammoliti's nephew Francesco, held to be the man who ordered the murder, got life. Saro Mammoliti himself was sent down for 22 years for extortion and other Mafia-related charges.[9] During the trials, the baroness denounced the relations between the Mammolitis and the local judiciary and politicians, such as the parliamentary leader of the far-right National Alliance, Raffaele Valensise, and the former minister of Education, the Christian Democrat Riccardo Misasi.[9][18]



  1. ^ (in Italian) Gratteri & Nicaso, Fratelli di Sangue, p. 165
  2. ^ a b (in Italian) Esposizione introduttiva del Pubblico ministero nel processo nei confronti di Giulio Andreotti, Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia Palermo, 1994
  3. ^ Male heir born to Mammoliti, Il Giornale di Calabria, January 19, 1979, quoted in: Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 111
  4. ^ Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 201
  5. ^ a b c Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 154
  6. ^ Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 111
  7. ^ Catching the Kidnapers, Time Magazine, January 28, 1974
  8. ^ Italy Arrests 3, Seeks 4th in Getty Kidnapping, The New York Times, January 17, 1974
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Woman of honour, The Independent, February 25, 1996
  10. ^ a b (in Italian) Mammoliti, nella cupola calabrese con i volantini del ministro, Corriere della Sera, September 2, 1992
  11. ^ J. Paul Getty III, 54, Dies; Had Ear Cut Off by Captors, The New York Times, February 7, 2011
  12. ^ (in Italian) Mammoliti: Anch’io responsabile del sequestro Getty Archived 2011-01-08 at the Wayback Machine., Antimafia Duemila, January 9, 2004
  13. ^ (in Italian) Il padrino: non ho commesso quei delitti, Gazetta del Sud, February 16, 2004
  14. ^ Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 87
  15. ^ (in Italian) Gioia Tauro, arrestato il capocosca Mammoliti, La Repubblica, June 2, 1992
  16. ^ (in Italian) In manette il clan dei Mammoliti, La Repubblica, September 1, 1992
  17. ^ Olive groves land a mafia boss in jail, The Independent, September 2, 1992
  18. ^ (in Italian) Il caso Cordopatri, Corriere della Sera, January 12, 1995
  19. ^ "dissociato Saro Mammoliti padrino della ' ndrangheta".
  20. ^ "Rizziconi (Reggio Calabria) si dimette il sindaco Girolamo Michele Bello, si va a nuove elezioni". Melitoonline.[permanent dead link]


  • Arlacchi, Pino (1988). Mafia Business. The Mafia Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-285197-7
  • (in Italian) Gratteri, Nicola & Antonio Nicaso (2006). Fratelli di Sangue, Cosenza: Luigi Pellegrini Editore ISBN 88-8101-373-8
  • Paoli, Letizia (2003). Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515724-9