The Magliana Gang: then and now, by Marta Lucatelli

During the 1970s-80s, Rome was in a really tough spot when a gang called Banda Della Magliana (Magliana gang) committed all sorts of crimes, including theft, solicitation of prostitution and cigarette smuggling. They basically had control of the entire city. The gang members, all young men aged 27-33, and all with their own nickname according to personal and specific physical or behavioural characteristics, have aroused a great deal of interest, especially on account of the detailed planning of their crimes and violence. The media have produced many documentaries about them, and also a film and TV series.

Those years saw the emergence of heroin, which had been widely promoted in Milan. The emerging Roman gang immediately wanted in on the deal. The Marseillais, another criminal group, had dominated Rome in terms of drug traffic and exploitation of prostitution during that period. The idea of Franco Giuseppucci, a minor gang leader of Rome districts Testaccio and Trastevere and known as the “Negro”, was to divide the city into several zones of influence and organise the trafficking in a scientific manner.  Giuseppucci’s project was attractive and it conquered the attention of other people: Enrico De Pedis known as Renatino, Raffaele Pernasetti, Ettore Maragnoli, Danilo Abbruciati, Maurizio Abbatino and Marcello Colatigli. The Magliana Gang had also links with New Camorra organised by Raffaele Cutolo and with Mafia boss Pippo Calo. They also had contacts with extreme right-wing groups.

In addition to drug dealing, the Magliana Gang switched to other businesses, gaining considerable power among criminal organizations. As a result of Flavio Carboni’s collaboration, the group started a large money laundering operation.  Recently, through further reconstruction of the facts, it has been proved that the Magliana Gang was also involved in dirty dealings with secret services. It has become increasingly evident that the government was aware of the activities of Magliana Gang, but it seemed to be totally vulnerable. Most of the Magliana Gang characters died of overdoses or were murdered by their rivals. Marcello Colafigli, known as Marcellone, is the only one still alive and is currently serving a life sentence.

It’s interesting to know, as mentioned above, that several documentaries, a TV series and two films have been made from the events concerning the gang. The main reason for the success of the TV series called Romanzo Criminale and the film is the fact that the authors have managed to represent the social background of this group of young men. The Roman setting, the use of slang and some idiomatic expressions made the film and the TV series accurate and trustworthy. At the same time, the various television representations have also given rise to a desire to emulate. Many young people, for example in Vibo Valentia (information in Italian here), have tried to recreate the robberies carried out by the Magliana Gang, in an attempt to escape poverty through organized crime.

Personally, what struck me most is the violence with which their crimes were committed. Their ingenuity was to think that crime was the only way to escape from their lives. All were from districts in the deprived outskirts of Rome, and their goal was to find a way to reject the socio-economic status into which they had been born. In sum, The Magliana gang has revealed state corruption, and the brutality and savagery that some men are capable of. Even today, the Magliana Gang is considered an ongoing living issue. So, the ultimate question is: can their story be considered filed?

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