More than 200 gang members have been sentenced to a total of more than 2,200 years in prison after one of the biggest mafia trials in Italian history.

More than 300 defendants are on trial as of January 2021, accused as members of the powerful criminal group “Drageta”.

It was founded in the 18th century in Calabria and developed into one of the most powerful, extensive and richest criminal organizations in the world.

“The ‘Ndrangheta is the only mafia operating on every continent, is said to control 80% of Europe’s cocaine trade and has an estimated annual turnover of £52bn.

The three-year trial involved mobsters, businessmen and politicians and included charges of murder, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering and extortion.

Since taking over on October 16 to consider their verdicts, the three judges overseeing the case have been required to live in a safe house under police protection.

Some 67 defendants who were part of the original indictment have already been found guilty after opting for a speedy trial.

More than 80 defendants were found not guilty, according to a list of verdicts on the Corriere Della Calabria news website.

Special forces and elite units struck the Draghetta in December 2019, with around 3,000 officers raiding 12 Italian regions and also making arrests in Germany, Switzerland and Bulgaria.

Assets and cash worth millions of euros were seized, while 300 suspects were detained.

The 2019 operation was named Rinascita-Scott, referring to the region’s renaissance – “rinascita” in Italian – and US Special Agent Scott W Sieben, who helped Italian police uncover links between Colombian cartels and the ‘Ndrangheta .

The attorney general leading the massive investigation was Nicola Gratteri, who arranged for a courtroom to be built to hold the trial.