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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border