Revealed: The incredible rat-infested escape tunnels and secret bunkers that Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia use to hide from police

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Fake tunnels, trapdoors and dead-ends abound, suggesting only a select few actually know the correct routes down the rat-infested tunnels to the safety of the bunkers

Stunning new images have been released of the network of underground tunnels and bunkers that Italian mafia organisations use to hide from law enforcement.

Covered in rat faeces, drug paraphernalia and dirt, the bunkers are a stark contrast to the billion euro drugs and extortion business that has turned one crime group – the ‘Ndrangheta - into an organisation suspected of making considerably more money each year than Italy’s largest legitimate business, Fiat.

The ‘Ndrangheta are based in Calabria, the sun-kissed toe to Italy’s boot but, although they are considerably less well-known than the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Camorra of Campania, they have gone on to dominate organised crime across Europe in recent years.

Among the world’s largest traffickers of cocaine, members of the group have recently been arrested in ‘Ndrangheta outposts as far-flung as Australia, the USA, South America and the Middle East.

The small, slow-paced Calabrian hill towns in which the group emerged, and from where its individual families (known as ‘Ndrinas) are still run, downplay what has become one of the largest and best organised multinational criminal establishments in the world.

With its emphasis on strong familial bonds between members, the ‘Ndrangheta have managed to avoid the vast number of informers, known as pentiti, that have so blighted other Italian organised crime groups in recent years.  It has also meant the group has retained a sense of Calabrian identity wherever its members migrate; ensuring the group’s values and methods are not diluted in any way.

As their power and income increased however, so did the attention the ‘Ndrangheta received from law enforcement.

As a result crime bosses constructed a network of tunnels beneath the Calabrian countryside, in order to allow quick escapes into hidden bunkers and safe houses.

Fake tunnels, trapdoors and dead-ends abound, suggesting only a select few actually know the correct routes down the rat-infested tunnels to the relative safety and comfort of the bunkers.

In fact, comfort appears to be something criminals on the run take very seriously.

One bunker was fitted with a full wood-fired pizza oven, while others have been found with stacks of books and battery operated gadgets. Another common find in the bunkers is paraphernalia connected to both drug consumption and the preparation of drugs for sale.

It seems that, even when they’re “on the lam”, Calabria’s mafioso are busy working to secure their income.

This World: The Mafia's Secret Bunkers will be shown tonight on BBC2 at 21:00 and later on the BBC iPlayer.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?