A much-loved family restaurant in Balham was run by the linchpin for one of the world's most powerful and murderously ruthless Mafia organisations, it has been revealed.

An article published in The Sunday Times Magazine on Sunday (December 2) by journalist Alex Perry, revealed the connection between high street restaurant Bucci and notorious Italian Mafia group 'Ndràngheta.

Edoardo Archetta, a father of three, first opened Bucci, on Balham High Street, 33 years ago. Over time it became the kind of establishment that completes a neighbourhood, loved by regulars for its authentic homely Italian cooking.

The bistro was so authentic in fact, that Archetta was using it as one of many fronts to launder dirty money for the one of the 'Ndràngheta group.

The Mafia group is based in Calabria, at the toe of Italy. Despite being founded in the 19th century, the southern Italian group did not come onto police radars in Italy until 2002. Even then, their far reaching influence wasn't know until this year.

After almost 15 years of investigation, it is estimated that 'Ndràngheta run 70 per cent of the cocaine in Europe. It extorts an estimated €7 billion a year from businesses in southern Italy.

But it wasn't until the last 18 months that they came onto the radar of UK police. Archetta was part a group of Italians who funnelled money through businesses in the UK, including Bucci and a bureau de change in Paddington. The cash was cleaned and funnelled out of the country to winery warehouses in Italy, France and Germany.

According to The Sunday Times, the Archetta case and the conviction of four men in August this year for flying half a ton of cocaine by private jet from Bogotá in Colombia to Farnborough airport, offers proof that the world's biggest Mafia has a more substantive UK presence than previously thought.

One of these businesses was the "deliciously authentic" Italian on Balham High Road. The unassuming bistro is popular in the local community, with four stars on TripAdvisor. Little did patrons know that it was used as a front for 'Ndràngheta and Archetta's money laundering benefits.

Bucci is still open and belived to be under new management. 

For the full article on 'Ndràngheta visit The Sunday Times.