Italy tries 350 suspected Mafia members

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A major trial of 350 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta Mafia is set to begin in southern Italy.

The trial of suspected members and their supporters is to begin on Wednesday and is expected to take up to two years.

The trial is set to be the biggest the country has seen in decades as the government attempts to crack down on organised crime.

The 'Ndrangheta, originating in Italy's Calabria region, has made substantial inroads in Australia, Europe and North America, and is considered the leading smuggler of cocaine into Europe.

The trial charges include Mafia association, murder, illegal possession of weapons, drug trafficking, extortion and loan-sharking.

Some 900 witnesses are expected to testify, including former members who are expected to break the Mafia's code of silence.

A special building was constructed in the town of Lamezia Terme for the trial.

A further 90 defendants opted for a summary trial, according to media reports, due to begin on January 27.

In December 2019, some 2500 Carabinieri officers arrested more than 300 suspected Mafia members in one of the largest raids targeting the organisation since the 1980s.

Those detained included politicians, lawyers and local entrepreneurs. Arrests were also made in Bulgaria, Germany and Switzerland.

Calabria, the impoverished southern region that forms the tip of Italy's boot, is the historical home of the 'Ndrangheta, one of the world's most powerful organised crime groups.