Mr. Mattioli, you have been observing for a long time how well organized the Calabrian Mafia is in Germany. Research by MDR and “FAZ” shows that the ‘Ndrangheta even has a secret supervisory body in this country, the Crimine di Germania. Why is Germany so important to the ‘Ndrangheta?
The re are several reasons for this.
The first lies in the history of immigration: Many southern Italians came here as guest workers in the 50s and 60s, so that docking stations were already there for mafiosi. Second, Germany is politically and economically very stable and therefore attractive for investments.
And thirdly, there is very little awareness of the mafia issue in Germany and the legal situation for mafiosi is therefore favorable. All in all, there is a suction effect. Germany is the most important country for the ‘Ndrangheta outside of Italy.
The secret oversight body that is now being reported has been in existence for several years. What’s it all about?
What is particularly new is that the BKA has now also confirmed the existence of this body. A key witness told me back in 2012 that Germany, like North America, is a so-called “Provincia” in the organizational structure of the ‘Ndrangheta. Such a control committee is part of it.
The body should henceforth ensure a balance and prevent such disputes from recurring. Bloody feuds make the activities of the ‘Ndrangheta difficult. She prefers to operate in secret.
How can one imagine the work of the ‘Ndrangheta in this country? It is considered the most dangerous of the Italian Mafia organizations.
She earns money from many different businesses, both legal and illegal, but the main source of income is drug trafficking.
The ‘Ndrangheta mainly deals in cocaine on a global level. So she has a lot of money, but she can’t do anything with it at first.
That means she has to “wash” it and invest. Italian restaurants are not enough for this amount of money, otherwise the ‘Ndrangheta would have to pave half of Germany with restaurants. That is why business contacts in other areas are important.
The re is even a diaper factory that has received ‘Ndrangheta money. Or a tent at a large beer festival that is believed to be owned by the ‘Ndrangheta.
The Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri estimates that there could be 60 so-called “locali” in Germany.
The se are subdivisions of the ‘Ndrangheta, each of which must have at least 50 members. That would mean there are at least 3,000 members of the ‘Ndrangheta, not all of whom are necessarily criminals.
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The head of a “locale” in Singen in Baden-Württemberg that was blown up was a worker in a metal works, but at the same time had 50 clan members under him. But of course there are also the mafiosi who run really good restaurants and diligently network there, establish contacts and probably also make agreements in the back room.
How networked is the ‘Ndrangheta in German politics?
Apparently we do not have a situation in Germany in which politicians serve Mafia interests. But they do exist, the contacts of mafiosi with politicians and local politicians.
The y often come about through the restaurants. And of course the ‘Ndrangheta can use that. Obviously, when you have an innkeeper who is well respected and loved by the social elite, he is harder to investigate.
The constant exchange with Italy, with the heart of the ‘Ndrangheta there, is important. One can assume that there is a continuous flow of information there.
The situation is underestimated because the ‘Ndrangheta is very inconspicuous. One thing is clear: wherever the ‘Ndrangheta is allowed to go, the situation gets worse and worse. On the other hand, the way we proceed against the ‘Ndrangheta in Germany is not expedient either.
In general, too little is being done to combat money laundering. And the security authorities take a very fool-centered approach. That hardly helps.
German law enforcement is very much geared towards specific criminal offenses and less towards clearing up structures. It is of little use if you arrest three mafiosi for dealing in drugs and the structures remain in place. Italy is further there.
The re, the criminal organization ‘Ndrangheta is examined in its entirety, including the invisible part of the clans, which includes prosecutors, police officers and politicians. This approach does more justice to reality than viewing the Mafia as just a criminal organization selling drugs. Because it’s just so much more complex.
But you also repeatedly complain that the German public is hardly interested in the Mafia in Germany.
Yes. My impression is that the fight against the Lebanese clans, for example, attracts a lot more attention because they are much more conspicuous in the street scene.
The ‘Ndrangheta is no less dangerous just because you don’t notice it as much.
Was there anything in your work as a journalist that scared you?
I’ve already been threatened, of course that’s not nice. But I found another incident really worrying. While doing research with a colleague, I came to a small German town where the ‘Ndrangheta played a huge role. We parked, walked 300 meters through the pedestrian zone and sat down in a bakery.
The n two Italians came in, ordered and gave us very clear looks to understand that they were keeping an eye on us. Just this mere act of showing, “We know you’re there” – I found that very disturbing. I only knew that from Mafia locations in Calabria.
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