Maria Chindamo’s car was spotted just outside the fields she owned in Limbadi, a community near the Italian region of Calabria, Italy. It was where she hoped to start her own small farming business.

The car’s engine was running, the driver’s door was open. Hair and blood were found on the asphalt next to the car however, in May 2016, there was no sign of her.

Chindamo’s disappearance came exactly one year after her husband committed suicide. This coincidence led some to speculate that it was a revenge killing by his family who held her responsible for his death as she had asked him for a divorce. However, this date was just a trick by the mobsters to escape the attention of the investigators.

Maria Chindamo

The 42-year-old widow was murdered because she refused to sell her land to a neighbor who, as it was revealed, had close ties to the mafia.

Her murder was gruesome: The men of the “Dragheta” mafia, after killing her, fed her lifeless body to pigs, while her bone was crushed by a bulldozer.


Drangheta leader Antonio Pelle at the time of his arrest in 2016

The chilling revelations in the “Dragetta” trial

The details of the gruesome murder of the 42-year-old was just one of many shocking revelations in the biggest Italian mafia trial in 30 years. A trial with 337 defendants, of whom 207 were found guilty and so many crimes that it took three female judges almost two hours to read the verdicts. The cumulative sentences, handed out last week, reached 2,200 years.

About 2,500 police officers took part in the investigation, which included at least 24,000 communications records.


Antonio Pelle

As the daily mail notes, the trial of size XXL, which it was held under tight security in the city of Lamezia Terme, was described as the most important anti-mafia in the last 30-plus years. There were many categories: organization and gang, drug trafficking, extortion, usury, money laundering..


Five murders were found at the heart of the case: the torture and revenge killing of two mobsters in the summer of 1996. The murder of a gay gangster in 2002 as well as another double murder in the same year.

Three of those five bodies they were never found. However, details of other gruesome murders have emerged.

Anyone who refused to sell their land to mobsters was brutally murdered, just like Maria Chindamo.

Another victim was dismembered, while Matteo Vinci, a young biologist, they planted an explosive device in his car, causing him to burn alive from the explosion. In addition to these murders, the trial revealed other mafia scams.

When the victims refused to pay the extortion moneythe bullying they received was brutal: a businessman who refused to pay them €2,000 (£1,733) a month found a dead dolphin dumped outside his construction company.

Another businessman who ran a clothing store found out a dead puppy hanging from the door of his shop, with broken legs. Others found goats’ heads severed or their cars burned. The trial revealed how Draghetta’s tentacles reached almost every corner of Calabrian life.

They even revealed secrets about gun caches in cemeteries, drug-trafficking ambulances, even about how municipal water was being diverted to irrigate marijuana plantations.


It probably has an annual turnover of around 50 billion euros

The daily mail notes that the “Drangheta” – who became infamous in 1973 for being behind the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III – was created about 150 years ago, partly as an armed response to Northern efforts to enforce Italian unity. This resistance mutated into organized crime, which “blackens” Calabria which has become known for the mafia while being one of the most beautiful parts of Italy.

Today, experts estimate that the “Drangheta”, which is made up of around 150 Calabrian families, has an annual turnover of around 50 billion euros on a global scale.

With the help of Interpol, Italy has been able in recent years to tighten the noose around this criminal network, prompting police around the world to identify Drangheta activities on their soil and pursue them.