|— Comune —|
|Città di Gioia Tauro|
|A3 motorway (A3 depicted in green).|
|Province||Reggio Calabria (RC)|
|• Mayor||Renato Bellofiore|
|• Total||38 km2 (15 sq mi)|
|Population (November 2012)|
|• Density||510/km2 ( 1,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||St. Hyppolite|
|Saint day||August 13|
Gioia Tauro is a comune (municipality) in the province of Reggio Calabria, in Calabria (Italy), on the Tyrrhenian coast. It has an important port, situated along the route connecting Suez to Gibraltar, one of the busiest maritime corridors in the world.
In the 1970s Gioia Tauro had to be the main centre for industrial development in Southern Italy, following a burst of violence in Reggio Calabria in 1970, signaling frustration over neglect by the central government of the region. The construction of a large steel plant and port facility was meant to bring income and jobs to Calabria. Until then Gioia Tauro had been a productive and beautiful agricultural area. Profitable farms and olive groves were expropriated and demolished.
The 'Ndrangheta, a Mafia-type criminal organisation based in Calabria, and in particular the Piromalli clan, exploited the construction of the steelworks until the project was abandoned in 1979 when the crisis in the steel industry could no longer be ignored and the government decided there was no economic base for it. In the meantime some 1,000 people were killed in conflicts over construction contracts. For a while the homicide rate of Gioia Tauro, with a population of about 17,000 at the time, was higher than New York City.
Then it was the turn of the energy project, but the great electrical energy power station was never built, due to environmental problems. Gioia Tauro became a grand example of failure which characterized much of the development of Italy’s South as "industrialisation without development."
Gioia Tauro seaport
The seaport has seven loading docks with an extension of 4,646 metres; it is the largest in Italy and the seventh largest container port in Europe, with a 2007 throughput of 3.7 million TEU's from more than 3,000 ships.
The seaport represents more than a third (2002) of the whole national traffic and is specialised in transhipment activities, taking the place of the Malta seaport as the node for overseas traffic from/to USA and from/to the Far East. The Medcenter Container Terminal (Medcenter, Contship) is the main operator working within the seaport of Gioia Tauro.
'Ndrangheta control of port
According to a 2006 report, Italian investigators estimate that 80% of Europe's cocaine arrives from Colombia via Gioia Tauro's docks. The port is also involved in the illegal arms trade. These activities are controlled by the 'Ndrangheta. However, according to a report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol, the Iberian Peninsula is considered the main entry point for cocaine into Europe and a gateway to the European market.
The Piromalli-Molè clan managed to condition the management of the new container terminal. Established in the mid-1990s, it became the largest terminal in the Mediterranean, moving over 2 million containers in 1998. Since 1994, when Contship Italia rented the port area to start transshipment activity and the Medcenter Container Terminal was set up thanks to 138 billion lire (about US$86 million) in state financing, the Piromalli’s aimed to oblige the Medcenter company, through its vice president Walter Lugli, and the Contship company, through its president Enrico Ravano, to pay a kickback of US$1.50 for each transshipped container, a sum which corresponded to about half the net profits earned by the two companies.
In February 2008 the parliamentary Antimafia Commission concluded that the ‘Ndrangheta “controls or influences a large part of the economic activity around the port and uses the facility as a base for illegal trafficking.” In its report it said that “the entire gamma of internal or sub-contracted activities is mafia-influenced, from the management of distribution and forwarding to customs control and container storage.” The extortion of Ravano and Contship, was part of a project that “did not involve simply this security tax, which grew with the port, but also control of activities tied to the port, the hiring of workers, and relations with port unions and local institutions,” the report added. “It effectively eliminated legitimate competition from companies not influenced or controlled by the mafia in providing goods and services, performing construction work and hiring personnel. And it threw a shadow over the behaviour of local government and other public bodies.”
'Ndrangheta infiltration of city council
The city council of Gioia Tauro was dissolved in 1991 because of infiltration by the 'Ndrangheta. In April 2008, it was dissolved for the second time for the same reason. The town is home to several 'ndrine, such as the Alvaro, Mammoliti, Molè and Piromalli families.
Gioia Tauro's former mayor and deputy mayor, Giorgio Dal Torrione, and Rosario Schiavone, were arrested on Mafia charges, on October 13, 2008. Both had been forced to step down in April when the city council was dissolved on suspicion of Mafia infiltration. 'Ndrangheta boss Gioacchino Piromalli was arrested as well along with his nephew, also named Gioacchino Piromalli, who is a lawyer. The mayors were accused of employing the younger Piromalli. Police believe the legal work was a front to enable the Piromallis to regain a slice of the business generated by Gioia Tauro, one of the largest container ports in Europe.
- All demographics and other statistics from the Italian statistical institute (Istat)
- Success for Gioia Tauro, undated ADN Kronos report on Italtrade
- Spotts & Wieser, Italy, a Difficult Democracy, p. 236
- Spotts & Wieser, Italy, a Difficult Democracy, p. 186
- "World Port Rankings 2005". American Association of Port Authorities. May 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- Van Marle, Gavin (2008-01-31). "Europe Terminals stretched to limit". Lloyds List Daily Commercial News. pp. 8–9.
- Bitter harvest, The Guardian, December 19, 2006
- Cocaine: a European Union perspective in the global context, EMCDDA/ Europol, Lisbon, April 2010
- Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 218
- (Italian) Il caso Gioia Tauro, Relazione sullo stato della lotta alla criminalità organizzata in Calabria, Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul fenomeno della mafia e delle altre associazioni criminali similari, July 2000
- Gioia Tauro 'controlled by mafia for over a decade', Lloyd’s List, February 21, 2008
- (Italian) Relazione annuale sulla 'ndrangheta, Commissione parlamentare di inchiesta sul fenomeno della criminalità organizzata mafiosa o similare (Relatore: Francesco Forgione), February 2008
- (Italian) Sciolto Consiglio comunale di Gioia Tauro, Corriere della Sera, April 22, 2008
- Mayors, mobsters in 'Ndrangheta op, ANSA, October 13, 2008
- Paoli, Letizia (2003). Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style, New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515724-9 (Review by Klaus Von Lampe) (Review by Alexandra V. Orlova)
- Spotts, Frederic & Theodor Wieser (1986), Italy, a Difficult Democracy: A Survey of Italian Politics, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-31511-5