Organized crime syndicates are commonly known to use intimidation tactics on those around them to ensure obedience. However, Italy’s most powerful mafia group often resorts to Old West tactics in its home region, which authorities are finally trying to get under control, according to the Times of London.

For four decades, the ‘NDrangheta mafia organization has controlled rural areas of Italy’s Calabria region by using herds of cattle to enforce its will. The uncontrolled cows breed and spread like wildfire, even going as far as to attack people and vehicles.

Lawyer Domenico Antico, who leads a local advocacy group opposed to the practice, told the Times of London that a bull “appeared out of nowhere” and attacked his Audi.

There have even been a few train derailments due to wild cattle on the tracks, but the ‘NDrangheta intimidated locals into never complaining. In 2005, a farmer was reportedly killed after complaining about the rampant herds damaging his land.

However, the local government is now working to resolve the issue by rounding up the cattle and moving them to fenced pastures. Their new home will be Aspromonte National Park, a mountainous, seaside area. Some 20 bulls have already been put there, while others had to be put down due to diseases.

The ‘NDrangheta hails from Calabria, in Southern Italy. It is considered the most powerful Italian mafia group, with massive profits from an international crime operation that includes extortion and prostitution. In January, there was an immense crackdown on ‘NDrangheta-aligned businesses throughout Italy and Germany, resulting in hundreds of arrests.

The nearby Sicilian mafia, an unassociated group that is also famous worldwide, has also reportedly used rampaging cattle as an intimidation tactic, according to The Guardian.

cattle Italian mafia groups use cattle herds as an intimidation tactic. Pictured above is a cattle herd in France. Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images