The biggest cocaine smugglers in Europe are the ‘Ndrangheta,

The biggest cocaine smugglers in Europe are the ‘Ndrangheta, a mafia from the “toe of Italy“, Calabria. They may not be as well known as their Sicilian counterparts but their drugs and extortion business is worth billions of euros. When cornered their bosses hole up in secret bunkers.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to see sunlight. Since dead of night I had been crawling through tunnels strewn with rat excrement, personal effects and the paraphernalia of the cocaine business.

The dust and damp were choking. How long had I been underground? Four hours? Five? Eight? Then at last, filthy, tired, and disorientated, I surfaced into a gorgeous mountain landscape, and a breeze bearing the perfume of wild oregano.

I felt as if I had just escaped a brush with insanity, with evil.

The tunnels were in the town of Plati, on Aspromonte, the “harsh mountain” that dominates the landscape at the very toe-tip of Italy’s boot.

Plati has been notorious for a century as a stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia.

Some of these bosses are raking in more than 300 million Euro’s a year from Oranges scams – corrupt officials say that the Oranges have been delivered then the bosses get a payment from the EU about six months later. The money is invested in guns and drugs and large mansions in the mountain villages.

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