Ndrangheta Members Arrested; La Santa Induction Rite Videotaped

A video of one conversation between clan leaders and Italian transcription can be seen here.

Italian anti-mafia police arrested 40 Ndrangheta members in northern Italy this week, and even filmed a "series of initiation rites," according to IBT. The video clip above contains reference to La Santa, a "secret society within a secret society."

According to Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style by Letizia Paoli, the santista rank was established at the end of the 1960s by Girolamo Piromalli, leader of the Piromalli family in Gioia Tauro, along with bosses of other families, to create a way around traditional Ndrangheta rules forbidding drug trafficking.

The arrests resulted from two years of investigation, ANSA reported. Police bugged cellphones and planted hidden cameras. Those arrested face charges related to racketeering, extortion and possession of unlicensed firearms.

The arrests reportedly took place in the small villages of Como and Lecco in Lombardy, northern Italy. Some Ndrangheta members were also arrested in Sicily.

The ceremony filmed involved initiating a member as a “Santa,” the highest rank in the organization. It took place at a mangiata, or feast, of three clans.

Members referred to each other and their absent colleagues with the names of 19th century Italian unification leaders, like Giuseppe Garibaldi, the name used for one of the clan leaders. The larger meeting involved assigning jobs and roles to each member and organizing a chain of leadership among the clans.

The operation was led by prosecutor Ilda Boccassini, who led the arrest of 300 suspected ‘Ndrangheta members in 2010 in a countrywide, synchronized operation.