«Criminale» and «Gran Criminale».
The Unitary and Vertical Structure of the ’Ndrangheta at its Origins
This article reconstructs the discovery in the 1930s that the ’Ndrangheta, then known as the «Montalbano Family», had a unitary and vertical structure. During the Fascist repression, a series of verdicts in court sessions in Reggio Calabria made it increasingly clear that the criminal groups active in that province were part of a single larger organisation with a hierarchical structure. Higher entities («Criminale» and «Gran Criminale») had been created to coordinate the activity of the local groups, prevent conflict among them and ensure respect for shared rules. The court judgment of 2012 now known as «Crimine» has conclusively established that the ’Ndrangheta has today a unitary structure. The analysis of newly available documentary sources shows that the drive to create this hierarchical organisation goes back to the origins of the ’Ndrangheta, but that its development has not been a linear process: the ’Ndrangheta has always had a difficult balance to strike between coordination and the traditional autonomy of local groups. Developing this theme, the article asks questions about the legitimation of the «Criminale» and «Gran Criminale» which will require further consideration. It also raises issues about the continuity of these authorities between the Fascist period and the present day.