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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning