Giuseppe Morabito

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Giuseppe Morabito
Giuseppe Morabito.jpg
Mugshot of 'Ndrangheta boss Giuseppe Morabito
Born (1934-08-15) August 15, 1934 (age 85)
Other names 'u tiradrittu ("the straightshooter")

Giuseppe Morabito (Italian pronunciation: [dʒuˈzɛppe moˈraːbito]; born August 15, 1934), nicknamed 'u tiradrittu ("the straightshooter"), is an Italian criminal and a historical boss of the 'Ndrangheta, a Mafia-type organisation in the region of Calabria (Italy). He hails from Africo in the Locride. He was a fugitive from 1992 and included in the list of most wanted fugitives in Italy until his arrest in February 2004.

Important 'Ndrangheta boss[edit]

Morabito was an important figure of the 'Ndrangheta. During the Second 'Ndrangheta war (1985–1991) in Calabria, he allegedly chaired the meetings that were held annually at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Polsi and, later, in Africo.[1] He is described as one of the senior members of Camera di Controllo, a provincial commission of the 'Ndrangheta formed at the end of the Second 'Ndrangheta war in September 1991, to avoid further internal conflicts,[2][3] i.e. the body that reproduces the well-known Sicilian Mafia Commission.

When he was arrested in February 2004, Roberto Centaro – the president of the Parliamentary Antimafia Commission – said the capture was even more important than that of Sicilian Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano.[4] According to several pentiti Sicilian Mafia boss Totò Riina was sheltered by Morabito, while Riina was on the run.[5][6] According to the special Antimafia police – the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA) – his influence within the 'Ndrangheta appears to be quite similar as Provenzano's influence within the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.[1]

Early years[edit]

His first troubles with the criminal justice system were in 1952 for illegally occupying and damaging a building, unlawful possession of arms and violence against persons. In 1967 he was accused of being the principal behind the Locri massacre in which three members of a rival clan were killed, but was acquitted for lack of evidence in 1971.[5][6]

At the end of the 1980s, Morabito became the head of the 'Ndrangheta locale of Africo after the so-called Motticella feud between the Morabito-Mollica clan and the Speranza-Palamara-Scriva clan, all from Africo.[5] In 1989, he challenged the chief of the national police Vincenzo Parisi to investigate, declaring he was innocent. An official brought the notice to Parisi while he visited the court in Locri in the midst of a meeting about an emergency of kidnappings in Calabria. Morabito became a fugitive in 1992 after an indictment for drug trafficking.[5][6]

'Ndrangheta cell in Sicily[edit]

The Morabito clan established a 'Ndrangheta cell in Messina on Sicily - across the Strait of Messina opposite Calabria. Up to the late 1970s, criminal gangs in Messina were under the influence of the 'Ndrangheta.[7] Only later, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra established an organisation of its own in Messina and its province by including the local Calabrian Mafia-type structure. The whole process took place without any conflict and there is reason to believe that the Mafia infiltration in the Messina area took place after agreements made between the leaders of the two organisations.[1]

The Morabito's exercise considerable power in Messina up to the present.[7] The clan turned the University of Messina into their private fiefdom, ordering that degrees, academic posts and influence be awarded to favoured associates. Friends or relatives of politicians were the beneficiaries whom the clan wished to cultivate. Before a police crackdown in June 2001, two professors had been kneecapped by unknown assailants, four bombs exploded in university buildings and the cars of several academics were set on fire. Lecturers were threatened before examinations by students claiming mafia-type backing.[8]

Drug trafficking[edit]

Morabito put together a joint venture of 'Ndrangheta clans, among which the Barbaro family from Platì, the Pelle family from San Luca, but also the Pisano-Pesce-Bellocco clan from Rosarno, on the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria.[5] Connections between the Morabito clan and Mafiosi of the Catania area were established during criminal investigations concerning drug trafficking.[1] Connections with the Mafia in Mazara del Vallo in the province of Trapani headed by Mariano Agate were used to import hashish from Morocco and cocaine from Latin America.[1] He was also involved in smuggling hashish from Lebanon.[9]

Between 1996 and 1997 the "new Balkan mafias" began to play a "dominant role" in the importing of heroin and arms trafficking, to the extent that they started supplying the 'Ndrangheta gang run by Morabito with drugs. The network, including Agim Gashi and Ismet Dedinca, enjoyed the discreet support of Italian intelligence (with which the Morabito clan as in contact) and the direct involvement of politicians (such as Ritvan Peshkepia), who enjoyed diplomatic immunity.[10][11][12]

The Morabito-Bruzzaniti-Palamara cosca from Africo is heavily involved in cocaine trafficking through contacts in Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina.[13] Tiradrittu’s grandson, Salvatore Morabito, looked after the interests of the clan in the north of Italy. He was arrested in Milan on May 3, 2007, along with 19 others. The police seized 250 kg of cocaine, smuggled through the fruit and vegetable wholesale market (Ortomercato) that is under control of the 'Ndrangheta.[14][15] Salvatore Morabito used to arrive at the market in his Ferrari.[16]


On February 18, 2004, Morabito was arrested along with his son-in-law, Giuseppe Pansera, another fugitive. He was armed but did not resist the police. "Treat me well," he reportedly told officers. He had been at large for 12 years, on suspicion of running an international drug smuggling ring.[4][17] However, many of his relatives are still free and continue to operate thanks to the prestige of Tiradrittu.[6] His son and successor as the head of the clan, Rocco Morabito, was arrested on April 26, 2010, in Melito di Porto Salvo, while he was visiting his sister.[18]

Giuseppe Sculli, a former Juventus and Italy Under-21 player, is the grandson of Morabito. He is accused of match-fixing when he played for F.C. Crotone against his other former club F.C. Messina at the last match-day of the 2001-02 Serie B season.[6][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Activity carried out and the results gathered during the period June – December 2000 by the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia
  2. ^ "'Ndrangheta 2005" (PDF) (in Italian). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-29., Nisio Palmieri, Dossier della Fondazione Cesar e dell’Associazione Sicurstrada per conto della Consulta Nazionale dei Consigli Regionali Unipol Assicurazioni
  3. ^ (in Italian) Sentenza procedimento penale Olimpia Archived July 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Tribunale di Reggio Calabria, January 19, 1999
  4. ^ a b Calabrian mafia leader arrested, BBC News, February 18, 2004
  5. ^ a b c d e (in Italian) Diffidò il capo della Polizia Parisi a investigare su di lui[permanent dead link], Gazzetta del Sud, February 19, 2004
  6. ^ a b c d e (in Italian) Killer nero e boss in camice bianco Archived 2007-06-18 at the Wayback Machine, L’Espresso, October 27, 2005
  7. ^ a b Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 27
  8. ^ Crackdown at university (sic) run by Mafia for 25 years, Daily Telegraph, June 19, 2001
  9. ^ (in Italian) Narcotraffico, filo diretto tra Libano e 'ndrine della Locride, Gazzetta del Sud, September 26, 2007
  10. ^ The World Geopolitics of Drugs 1998-1999, Observatoire Géopolitique de Drogues (OGD), April 2000
  11. ^ Milan: Kosovars Admit to Trafficking in Arms, Drugs, Corriere della Sera, May 1, 1999
  12. ^ Between ethnic collusion and mafia collusion: the "Balkan Route" to state-making, by Francesco Strazzari, in Jung, Shadow Globalization, Ethnic Conflicts and New Wars, p. 146
  13. ^ (in Italian) Boss alla milanese, L’Espresso, December 27, 2007
  14. ^ Mafiosi move north to take over the shops and cafés of Milan, The Times, May 5, 2007
  15. ^ (in Italian) Night club della 'ndrangheta all'Ortomercato, Corriere della Sera, May 4, 2007
  16. ^ (in Italian) Relazione annuale sulla 'ndrangheta, Commissione parlamentare di inchiesta sul fenomeno della criminalità organizzata mafiosa o similare (Relatore: Francesco Forgione), February 2008
  17. ^ (in Italian) Colpo al cuore della 'ndrangheta, arrestato il boss Morabito, La Repubblica, February 18, 2004
  18. ^ (in Italian) Duro colpo alla 'ndrangheta, preso il boss Giovanni Tegano, Corriere della Sera, April 26, 2010
  19. ^ At one Italian club, the most significant shots are fired at the president's car, The Guardian, November 22, 2005

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