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"What mafia, where?"

"What mafia, where?"

    A simple way of deflecting attention away from Calabrian mafia activity is to deny its existence.

    Mick Gatto says, "The Mafia doesn't exist in Australia. There's a friendship and bond between Italians who come here from the old country...they go to funerals and weddings, and show a lot of respect. Some of the Italians are very influential; if there's a problem, you talk to them and they rectify it. But its not the Mafia".
(M Gatto & T Noble, 2010, I, Mick Gatto, Allen & Unwin, Melbourne, p. 294f)

    The truthfulness of Gatto's statement is belied by his own notoriety as the gangster who retired and has "since gone straight". It is a claim that also sits uncomfortably with his family history.

    "Gatto's Calabrian-born father had a stall cheek-by-jowl with numerous 'Ndrangheta members in the Victoria Market; ['a diagram of stall holders in the market's O shed published in a Melbourne ne…

'They're Frank's family'

'They're Frank's family'

This phrase is part of remarks made by the former Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy, in an attempt to distance himself from some doubtful dinner guests. The Frank he is referring to is vegetable grower Frank Lamattina. The scandal was about the impropriety of the Liberal Party's parliamentary leader seen to meeting with Antonio Madafferi, a member of 'Frank's family' with an unsavoury reputation.

According to Victoria Police, there were very good reasons not to be in the the same room as Tony Madafferi, let alone eating at the same table. As recently as June 2017, Detective Superintendent Peter Brigham filed an affidavit in court declaring Madafferi had "substantial and close involvement with serious criminal conduct including drug importation, murder and extortion." However, "Mr Madafferi had established political connections by donating to Liberal politicians and attending Party functions in Melbourne's so…

Quiet and Deadly

Quiet and Deadly

There is often an unhealthy compact between victims of crime, criminals, police, and the public, to 'manage crime'. It is a preference for "peace, peace, when there is no peace". Historically at least, as long as violence does not spill over on to the evening news, or they're just killing members of their own subculture, the attitude has been that imported mafias are best ignored.

Terror comes from their power struggles, but is more or less contained when succession issues are resolved. When a strong man resumes control of unruly elements, it generally comes as a relief to politicians and law-abiding citizens alike. As they say in the economics text books, uncertainty is bad for business.

In a sense, the coba-bastone (boss), the contabile (accountant), the capo-crimine (enforcer), the capiota (local cabinet), and the camere-di-controllo (national coordination), are still selling us the same old bucket of shit. 'Ndrangheta is a protection racket,…

From the ground up, the tree is rotten

From the ground up, the tree is rotten

There is an awkward tension between licit and illicit that must be negotiated by practitioners of organised crime. The way they achieve this is best described as the mafia-method -- a sort of non-stick open secret.

In Italy the 'ndrangheta has been proscribed as a mafia-type organised crime group. Through the deadly decades of fighting against the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Neapolitan Camorras, and the Calabrian 'ndrangheta, judicial authorities came to realise that mafias were better understood as "methods and behaviours", rather than perpetrators of specific offences.

Italian law 646, article 416, was designed accordingly, to capture members of mafia-like conspiracies. It focused on those using "the threatening power of the associative bond and the condition of subjection and the code of silence deriving from it, to commit crimes, to directly or indirectly acquire the management or control of financial activities, concessions…