Deadly tendrils of powerful mafia exposed by University of Essex professor

  • Date

    Mon 27 Jun 22

image of mountainous countryside at dusk with a toy doll in the foreground

How the deadly tendrils of a powerful mafia organisation spread from Southern Italy into the corner of every continent has been exposed in a new book by a University of Essex professor.

Delving deep into the secretive world of the ‘ndrangheta Professor Anna Sergi explores the power and influence exerted by the group from the impoverished mountainous region of Calabria, Southern Italy.

Chasing the Mafia: 'Ndrangheta, Memories and Journeys blends travelogue, memoir, investigative journalism and academic analysis to reveal how the organised crime group became the most powerful in Italy and one of the largest in the world.

In a deeply personal journey, the Professor of Criminology draws on her own experience growing up in Calabria and how the ‘ndrangheta has cast a shadow over the troubled region –which has one of the highest unemployment rates inside the European Union and that has been massively afflicted by emigration.

Starting the journey in small villages in her native Italy Prof Sergi shows how the ’ndrangheta glans spread to Australia, Canada, United States and Argentina – taking over drug trafficking, extortion, and money laundering.

The expose also shows how the illegal enterprise affected innocent Italians abroad and how law enforcement struggle to contain the criminal organisation which is the only one present in at least four continents with constant referrals back to Calabria and Italy.

It is so powerful that to the ’ndrangheta are connected at least three major murders - cold cases - of Australian history. But so far, only Canada has been able, outside of Italy, to bring the ‘ndrangheta to trial.

Dr Sergi said: “This book has been in my head since 2015, on a day when I was watching a beautiful summer over Aspromonte mountains in Calabria.

“I felt deep inside the need to explain how a beautiful place like the one I grew up with has been made famous by a criminal organisation which crosses borders and commits crimes all over the world.

The publication of Chasing the Mafia is the result of my professional journey as a researcher and my personal journey as a Calabrian. It is dedicated to my region and to all the honest people there.”

The book is published by Bristol University Press and was released on 24 June.