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Italian prosecutor: 'Ndrangheta is top crime group in West

ROME (AP) — Italy’s top anti-mafia prosecutor said Tuesday the country's ‘Ndrangheta mob was “the most important criminal organization in the Western world,” as preliminary hearings in the biggest ever trial against the group resumed.

The hearings at the bunker room of the Rebibbia prison, which are expected to last until the end of October, are preliminary procedures against 452 suspects from the Calabrian-based ’Ndrangheta. The suspects face charges such as involvement with mafia-type organizations, international drug trafficking, usury, extortion and money laundering.

At an unrelated briefing with the foreign press Tuesday, Giuseppe Governale, Italy's chief anti-mafia prosecutor, said the group was “underestimated” and particularly dangerous because of its ability to proliferate across nations and infiltrate them.

“They are like water," he said. “Unlike Cosa Nostra and Camorra, which go abroad (just) to make quick money, ‘Ndrangheta does go there, yes, to make money, but also to exploit the local communities,” he said. The Cosa Nostra is the Sicilian-based mob whereas the Camorra's stronghold is in the Naples area.

The hearings in Rome could lead to the opening of the second biggest mafia trial ever, after the famous ‘maxi trial’ against Cosa Nostra in 1986 in Palermo. The investigation was being headed by Calabria's prominent anti-mafia prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri.

The Calabrian ’Ndrangheta has increasingly eclipsed Sicily's Cosa Nostra in power and wealth, infiltrating all sectors of Italian economic and political life and extending far from its southern base.

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