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While we know about the Sicilian mafia from the Godfather movies, another more powerful Italian mafia has recently come to light: the ‘Ndrangheta. Established in the late 1800s from a group of 140 families, the secret to this mafia’s success is secrecy. But, their secret was revealed when four women from the clan testified against their own families to bring their works to light. Alex Perry, author The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia, gives more details about this mafia and the brave women who exposed it.

The ‘Ndrangheta are highly influential globally and part of practically all our lives at one point or another. We work in their businesses, eat in their restaurants, and vote for their candidates, but most of us have never even heard of them. They are responsible for running 70% of the cocaine industry in Europe, running global arms businesses, dumping nuclear waste in the Red Sea, and much more, earning themselves 50-100 billion dollars a year. The reason for their success is a reliance on a brutal family structure, where betrayal becomes unthinkable.

The secrecy and misogyny in this mafia are what ultimately led to their exposure. The men in the family are raised to run the business and be killers, but the women are treated as slaves. They are confined to the home from birth and married off at a young age to clan alliances, where beatings are a regular occurrence. Any misbehavior or unfaithfulness will result in their murder, where their bodies are dissolved in acid to get rid of the family shame. But, a few courageous women went against their families to expose this mafia. Two of them were murdered, but their legacy stands behind them, as they exposed the ‘Ndrangheta for the first time and were able to put 64 of their members behind bars. While these women made a difference, the mafia is still alive and well, due to their adaptability. Perry says they are concealed in every part of the financial market, and you could be doing business with them any time you make a transaction.

For a copy of Alex Perry’s book, visit the links below.


  • Alex Perry, author of The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia

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