Former ‘Ndrangheta boss to testify in massive trial
Luigi Bonaventura, 49, former high-ranking member in the ‘Ndrangheta, is set to testify in the current trial against 350 ‘Ndrangheta members. The trial began on Wednesday and is expected to be two years in length in Lamezia Terme, southern Calabria. Suspects include lawyers, politicians, businesspeople and more hardened criminals.
He turned against his crime family and has been cooperating since 2006, where he has put more than 500 ‘Ndrangheta members behind bars since. Bonaventura knows many of the defendants personally and expressed how difficult it was for authorities to effectively keep the ‘Ndrangheta under surveillance.
The ‘Ndrangheta initially earned its money from kidnappings, but then expanded to the construction sector, frequently nabbing lucrative state contracts, and the international drugs trade. The network is suspected of smuggling cocaine from Latin America to supply much of the European market. Some of the suspects on trial in Calabria were arrested in Germany.
Bonaventura said the ‘Ndrangheta had taken a new course. The bosses no longer train their children to become killers but instead invest in their education so that they become “economic criminals: bankers and lawyers.” He is hoping that the current trial will shed light on the ‘Ndrangheta’s practices and organizational structures.
His grandfather, Luigi Vrenna, was an important ‘Ndrangheta boss years ago who passed on the tradition to Bonaventura’s father and eventual ‘Ndrangheta soldier.
“You don’t have a childhood,” Bonaventura said, “I had abandoned my dreams and lost my energy because I did not believe there would be an end to the ‘Ndrangheta… but maybe something can change with this trial and the work of the state prosecutors.”
He frequently covers his face in public, and does not disclose where he lives to anyone in fear of retaliation from the family he betrayed.