Italian Cops Decipher Mafia Code on Initiation Rite

You'll need 5 people to do it right

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 10, 2014 5:31 PM CST

(Newser) – "For the baptism, five people are needed—no more and no less," reads the coded instructions. But this "baptism" isn't the usual sort: It's for new members of the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate in Italy, reports the Telegraph. Police discovered the instructions during a murder investigation, and two officers who like to solve puzzles got busy deciphering the text, which resembles ancient Egyptian and Greek. The big break came when they figured out the letter C, and the rest fell into place.

It's oh-so-dramatic stuff: The initiation must take place in a "sacred, sacrosanct, and secure" location, and the newbie must cut his skin with a knife in order to swear a blood oath—"an eternal allegiance to the honored society.” The BBC reports that the 'Ndrangheta is thought to be the most powerful mafia in Italy, with a specialty in cocaine smuggling. "Finding such a document shows that even if they are projected towards big businesses and are a criminal group with a global presence, they still use archaic systems," says a police official in Rome. (The syndicate apparently isn't a fan of the new pope.)

Police check the area where a bomb went off in southern Italy in this 2010 file photo. It damaged the home of a judge who investigates the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.
Police check the area where a bomb went off in southern Italy in this 2010 file photo. It damaged the home of a judge who investigates the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.   (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)
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