Mammoliti 'ndrina

The Mammoliti 'ndrina (Italian pronunciation: [mammoˈliːti]) is a powerful clan of the 'Ndrangheta, a criminal and mafia-type organisation in Calabria, Italy. The 'ndrina is based in Castellace and Oppido Mamertina in the plain of Gioia Tauro in southern Calabria on the Tyrrhenian coast. The clan is considered to be one of the more powerful in the area, and is closely linked to the Rugolo clan through intermarriage. They are often referred to as the Mammoliti-Rugolo clan.[1]

Mammoliti 'ndrina
Founding locationGioia Tauro plain, Calabria, Italy
Years active1930s-present
TerritoryGioia Tauro plain and Milan in Italy
Criminal activitiesRacketeering, kidnapping and extortion

Feud with the Barbaro clanEdit

In the 1950s the Mammoliti clan was involved in a bloody feud in Castellace with the Barbaro 'ndrina. In October 1954, the head of the clan, Francesco Mammoliti, was killed by Domenico Barbaro. On November 7, 1954, the Mammolitis retaliated and killed Francesco Barbaro and some others, an attack that was attributed to Francesco's son Vincenzo Mammoliti, who was acquitted by the court because of insufficient proof. On January 19, 1955, Giovanni Barbaro, the brother of Francesco, was killed with 31 gunshots. Again Vincenzo was acquitted, but his brother Antonino Mammoliti was convicted for murder.[2]

In the end the Mammoliti clan prevailed and the Barbaro clan moved to Platì. The feud lingered on until 1978, when Domenico Barbaro was killed in Perugia, after serving 26 years in prison for the murder of Francesco Mammoliti in 1954.[3] Francesco's sons, Vincenzo and Saverio Saro Mammoliti took over the command of the clan seconded by their other brother Antonino Mammoliti. Blood relatives represented the interests in the city council of their area of interest.[4] The Mammoliti-Rugolo clan is closely linked to the Piromalli 'ndrina and the Mazzafero 'ndrina.[2]

Criminal enterpriseEdit

Since the 1950s powerful 'Ndrangheta families, such as the Mammolitis and the Piromallis, launched into broad-scale expropriations of land and full-blown entrepreneurship, financing their operations by intercepting government development funds or by kidnapping the children of rich industrialists. The Mammoliti clan acquired the property or the direct or indirect control over wide extensions of land in Castellace, Oppido and Santa Cristina in the Gioia Tauro plain. They forced most landowners to sell their properties at a price much lower than the market one, by imposing heavy extortion taxes or by damaging their trees and products. When they did not succeed in obtaining legal ownership of the lands, they frequently gained de facto control of the farms, selling the products and even collecting the relative farming subsidies.[5]

One of the landed proprietors ruined by the expansion of the clan described the rise of the clan at the end of the 1970s: “A few years ago Vincenzo Mammoliti used to earn a paltry amount from his dishonest dealings as a watchman in the citrus orchards. Now he travels around in de luxe cars, he has bought up factories and land, and people say he has accumulated a fortune worth hundreds of millions [lire].”[6]

Getty kidnapEdit

Mammoliti and his brother was one of the men charged with the kidnap of John Paul Getty III on July 10, 1973, in Rome. Police considered him to be "very close to the brain, or rather brains, behind the plot,"[7] including Girolamo Piromalli. Nine men eventually were arrested. Two were convicted and sent to prison.[7] The others, including Piromalli and Mammoliti, were acquitted for lack of evidence. However, Mammoliti, a fugitive at the time, was convicted for drug trafficking.[8][9][10]

The ransom initially demanded was $17 million (equivalent to $99 million in 2020[11]) for his safe return. However, the family suspected a ploy by the rebellious teenager to extract money from his miserly grandfather.[12] John Paul Getty Jr. asked his father J. Paul Getty for the money, but was refused, arguing that his 13 other grandchildren could also become kidnap targets if he paid.[13]

In November 1973, an envelope containing a lock of hair and a human ear arrived at a daily newspaper. The second demand had been delayed three weeks by an Italian postal strike.[12] The demand threatened that Paul would be further mutilated unless the victims paid $3.2 million. The demand stated "This is Paul's ear. If we don't get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits."[12]

When the kidnappers finally reduced their demands to $3 million, Getty agreed to pay no more than $2.2 million (equivalent to $12.8 million in 2020[11]), the maximum that would be tax-deductible. He lent his son the remaining $800,000 at four percent interest. Getty's grandson was found alive on December 15, 1973, in a Lauria filling station, in the province of Potenza, shortly after the ransom was paid.[14] Getty III was permanently affected by the trauma and became a drug addict. After a stroke brought on by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol in 1981, Getty III was rendered speechless, nearly blind and partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. He died on February 5, 2011, at the age of 54.[10]

The ransom money was invested in the trucks with which the 'Ndrangheta won all the transportation contracts for the container port of Gioia Tauro.[8][15] After he decided to collaborate with Italian justice, Mammoliti confessed to have been involved in the kidnap.[16][17]

The Mammoliti clan also 'persuaded' local landowners to sell them their lands at giveaway prices, or to rent it to them for next to nothing - or the clan simply fenced it in and treated it as its own.[8][18]

Cordopatri caseEdit

The Mammolitis also exploited the estates belonging to the Cordopatri family. The Mammolitis through a front man, who paid only a symbolic rent, exploited the estates belonging to the family from 1964 up to the late 1980s. When baron Francesco Cordopatri finally succeeded in recovering control of the property in 1990, he was unable to pick the olives because local labourers systematically turned down his offers of employment, afraid of offending the Mammolitis. After his murder in July 1991, his sister Teresa Cordopatri attempted to continue, but she too faced insurmountable problems.[5]

The case made the national and international headlines in the summer of 1994 when the Finance Ministry threatened to confiscate the property for not paying taxes on the land (whose products her family had not enjoyed since the 1960s). was the resistance of the baroness Cardopatri resisted the confiscation and she started a hunger strike outside the law courts in Reggio Calabria. Cardopatri was granted an extension to pay her taxes and the decade-long territorial expansion of the Mammoliti family began to be halted.[5][8]

Peace among the olive treesEdit

Judge Salvatore Boemi – investigating the murder of Francesco Cordopatri – ordered the arrest of 35 members of the Mammoliti clan, Saro Mammoliti included, in an operation dubbed ‘Peace among the olive trees’. Arrests were made in June and August 1992.[8][19][20] Charges include allegations of the murder; six bomb attacks; 19 arson attacks; the destruction of 1,100 olive, citrus and kiwi trees in 15 separate incursions, and 14 instances of agricultural equipment stolen.[18]

Thanks almost exclusively to the baroness Cordopatri's testimony, Salvatore La Rosa – the material killer of her brother was sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Saro Mammoliti's nephew Francesco, held to be the man who ordered the murder, got life. Saro Mammoliti himself was sent down for 22 years for extortion and other Mafia-related charges.[8] During the trials, the baroness denounced the relations between the Mammolitis and the local judiciary and politicians, such as the parliamentary leader of the far-right National Alliance, Raffaele Valensise, and the former minister of Education, the Christian Democrat Riccardo Misasi.[8][21]


  • Francesco Mammoliti (1901-1954) — Capobastone from Castellace, murdered in 1954 during the feud with the Barbaro 'ndrina.[9]
  • Saverio "Don Saro" Mammoliti (1942) — Capobastone, son of Francesco, received life sentence in 1995,[22] and in 2003, decided to collaborate with the Italian justice and became a pentito.[22][23] Nevertheless, he received another 20 years sentence for his role in the Oppidio feud between rival clans over the control of the area.[24]
  • Domenico Rugolo (1935) — Former acting boss arrested in 2007.[25]


  1. ^ (in Italian) Gratteri & Nicaso, Fratelli di Sangue, p. 165
  2. ^ a b (in Italian) Esposizione introduttiva del Pubblico ministero nel processo nei confronti di Giulio Andreotti, Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia Palermo, 1994
  3. ^ Male heir born to Mammoliti, Il Giornale di Calabria, January 19, 1979, quoted in: Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 111
  4. ^ Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 201
  5. ^ a b c Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 154
  6. ^ Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 111
  7. ^ a b Catching the Kidnapers, Time Magazine, January 28, 1974
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Woman of honour, The Independent, February 25, 1996
  9. ^ a b (in Italian) Mammoliti, nella cupola calabrese con i volantini del ministro, Corriere della Sera, September 2, 1992
  10. ^ a b J. Paul Getty III, 54, Dies; Had Ear Cut Off by Captors, The New York Times, February 7, 2011
  11. ^ a b 1634 to 1699: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy ofthe United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "Sir Paul Getty (obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. April 17, 2003. Archived from the original on March 26, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Profile: Sir John Paul Getty II". BBC News. London, England. June 13, 2001. Archived from the original on February 18, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "Il rapimento di Paul Getty". Il Post (in Italian). July 10, 2013. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  15. ^ Arlacchi, Mafia Business, p. 87
  16. ^ (in Italian) Mammoliti: Anch’io responsabile del sequestro Getty Archived 2011-01-08 at the Wayback Machine, Antimafia Duemila, January 9, 2004
  17. ^ (in Italian) Il padrino: non ho commesso quei delitti, Gazetta del Sud, February 16, 2004
  18. ^ a b Olive groves land a mafia boss in jail, The Independent, September 2, 1992
  19. ^ (in Italian) Gioia Tauro, arrestato il capocosca Mammoliti, La Repubblica, June 2, 1992
  20. ^ (in Italian) In manette il clan dei Mammoliti, La Repubblica, September 1, 1992
  21. ^ (in Italian) Il caso Cordopatri, Corriere della Sera, January 12, 1995
  22. ^ a b (in Italian) Un tornado la notizia del pentimento di “don” Saro Mammoliti, Gazzetta del Sud, May 1, 2003
  23. ^ (in Italian) Si è pentito Saro Mammoliti padrino della 'ndrangheta, Corriere della Sera, May 18, 2003
  24. ^ (in Italian) Faida di Oppido, Saro Mammoliti condannato a 20 di reclusione, Gazetta del Sud, April 9, 2008
  25. ^ "Rizziconi (Reggio Calabria) si dimette il sindaco Girolamo Michele Bello, si va a nuove elezioni". Melitoonline.[permanent dead link]


  • Arlacchi, Pino (1988). Mafia Business. The Mafia Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-285197-7
  • (in Italian) Gratteri, Nicola & Antonio Nicaso (2006). Fratelli di Sangue, Cosenza: Luigi Pellegrini Editore ISBN 88-8101-373-8
  • Paoli, Letizia (2003). Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515724-9