The world was sickened when a young woman who got in the Calabrian Mafia's way was fed to a some deliberately-starved pigs, but that is only one example of the chilling crimes the lawless and bloodthirsty mobsters carried out.

The harrowing murder of Maria Chindamo, a local businesswoman in Limbadi, came coincidently a year after the sudden death of her husband, which left her with land that mafiosi had their eyes on. She was brutally attacked and slaughtered before the killers chopped up her body by rolling a tractor over her and then feeding her remains to the pigs just because she wouldn't sell.

Her 2016 death was a snap-shot of the stomach-churning revelations heard at Italy's biggest mafia trial in 30 years earlier this year. It involved 337 defendants, with 207 of them found guilty. So deep was the level of crime, it took the judges nearly two hours to reel off the verdicts in court.

The suspected head of a Calabrian mafia crime family Salvatore Coluccio is taken away (
AFP via Getty Images)

Between the mobsters, the accumulated sentences added up to 2,200 years. It took 2,500 Italian police officers to complete the investigation with 600 lawyers and almost 1,000 witnesses. The other crimes were just chilling - a dead puppy hung from the door of a shop another, while just a few miles away severed goats heads were found at a home.

Things started to unravel. Dozens of informants betrayed the organisation’s strict code of silence and the gangsters no longer had the control that made them one of the most feared in the criminal under-belly of the country. The whistle-blowing was getting louder and louder and the authorities finally gained back control.

They were sent down on charges ranging from murder and extortion to drug trafficking. The court heard that the criminal cartels also dumped dead dolphins at the property of a man who refused to pay for protection when it was offered. The warm was just one of the threats including slaughtered animals sent out.

A landmark mafia trial in Italy last week saw dozens of informants betray the criminal group (
AFP via Getty Images)

Another boss arrested as he worked as a chef in an Italian restaurant in Saint-Etienne, France. And another was captured when police swooped on his car wash in Munich, Germany. They were among 350 suspected members of the feared 'Ndrangheta gang rounded up as Italy got tough with the notorious organised crime group.

On Maria Chindamo's death, Catanzaro Chief Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who co-ordinated the raid, told Fanpage.It: "Maria Chindamo was killed exactly one year after her husband's suicide, when she allowed herself to post photos with her new partner. Two days after the shot, she was killed in an inhuman, tragic way. She killed and fed to pigs, her remains ground up with a crawler tractor to make all traces disappear. She was killed because she wanted to be a woman and a free entrepreneur."

Her murder caused anger in Italy and police swung into action (
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One of the secrets to the mafia's success lies in how deeply it is embedded in Calabria, a mountainous area where it is almost impossible for police to swoop on suspects without being spotted. The group is made up of many smaller clans, called ’ndrina, based almost exclusively on blood ties.

Dr Zora Hauser, a mafia researcher at Oxford University, says: "The fact that they recruit among their own family has been very effective in avoiding detection. Even if you want to get out of your clan, you won’t want to give evidence against your brothers and sisters, your father or mother."