The first rule of the Notorious Crime Family is you don’t talk about the Notorious Crime Family.
“Do not say your name, date of birth or ‘no comment’, just remain mute. This is non-negotiable.”
The second rule is never discuss family business with anyone outside the family.
Members are free to party, just not to the detriment of business. Cocaine, weed and ecstasy are OK. But the third rule bans anyone using ice, heroin and GHB — “non-negotiable”.
So begins the “constitution” of the Notorious Crime Family, a list of 19 commandments the gang was expected to live and die by, laid down by its founder, George Marrogi, from inside his maximum security cell in Barwon Prison.
At the time in 2019, Marrogi was awaiting trial for the murder of Kadir Ors whom he had gunned down three years before in broad daylight in the car park of a Campbellfield shopping centre.
It was the latest in a series of violent crimes that had meant the then 27-year old underworld figure had spent less than 12 months of his adult life outside prison.
That year, Marrogi, a former bikie who had become a central player in a shooting war between rival Middle Eastern organised crime groups, decided to form his own gang.
The Notorious Crime Family (aka NCF) was modelled on the strict code of a mafia family or a bikie club, but practised by a membership addicted to notoriety and led by a domineering figure who insisted on exerting uncompromising control from inside his prison cell.
The NCF’s business was drug trafficking, fraud and extortion – and Marrogi was determined it would be run like a business. An executive “commission” was created to plan crimes, run operations, enforce discipline and mete out punishments to wayward members and enemies.
“Commission will be set up that has the final say on all matters. Non-Negotiable,” Rule 4 said.
“Commission meets every month to discuss everything membership related and in what direction the membership is headed, after meetings all members will be updated.”
Members were ordered to send a percentage of their illicit profits to a “secure offshore account” to pay for lawyers and support the families of members in trouble with the law, according to Rule 9.
Even legitimate business activities were tightly regulated. Members looking to buy a car or a house, get financing or find a builder were ordered to go to other members first.
Above all this was the promise of unconditional solidarity and safety. “Membership guarantee’s [sic] protection and full support of every member, no-matter what right or wrong,” said Rule 10.
Marrogi went so far as to select a motto for the gang based on the Old Testament Bible passage Jeremiah 11:11 – “I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.”
The passage became widely known in 2019 after it was referenced several times in the American horror blockbuster, Us, spurring a flurry of online articles aiming to explain its prophetic meaning.
Other gang accoutrements included a custom-designed NCF logo that was tattooed on members and used to create a line of branded clothing.
How many of these rules dreamt up inside a prison cell were actually implemented on the streets is impossible to tell.
A former associate, who does not want to be identified for safety reasons, said the rigid and detailed constitution was born partly as a result of Marrogi’s boredom after spending years on 23-hour-a-day lockdown.
Marrogi was no stranger to the mind-numbing effect that comes with serving huge stretches of solitary time. During a previous nine-year sentence for manslaughter, Marrogi had secretly and meticulously assembled a home-made crossbow just to keep busy.
Those who know Marrogi have painted a picture of an often erratic and domineering man who had a fascination with control and notoriety.
“NCF was George’s cell dream, and it really remains George’s cell dream,” said a former friend turned enemy, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
And while bikie clubs have been around for decades and the Italian mafia for more than a century, the Notorious Crime Family lasted barely three years before police dismantled it.
This was not a secretive crime organisation.
Gang members brazenly showboated their affiliation and wealth on social media.
A brawl in a nightclub escalated into a drive-by shooting and exchange of gunfire at the home of one of the gang’s top members, Jimmey Barkho.
As both a cover story (and an inside joke), outsiders were told NCF actually stood for “Nurturing Christian Families”. It was even registered as a business name.
It was claimed that “NCF” was established in honour of Marrogi’s deceased sister Meshilin to support Middle Eastern Christian refugees and immigrants settling in Australia through the sale of branded hoodies.
The initials, NCF, were also used in the name of a logistics company allegedly used as a front business for the gang’s illegal activities.
Victoria Police’s Echo taskforce began an active investigation of their activities within a year and the Australian Federal Police followed soon after.
But the NCF’s downfall actually began because Marrogi himself repeatedly broke Rule 11, albeit in a very inventive but not quite foolproof way.
“All communication between members, whether personal or not but especially membership related must be made through commission approved devices. E.g. Ghost phone,” the directive said.
Encryption devices were not an option inside prison, so Marrogi found a way to manipulate the prison phone system that allowed him to make up 20 calls a day under the noses of corrections authorities.
A telephone line was set up inside a legal firm that actually diverted to a mobile phone held by his girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Antonietta Mannella. Under prison rules, calls to lawyers cannot be intercepted or recorded.
They spoke business using codes, nicknames, and Assyrian words: “Shula” meant drug-related work; “Zuze” meant cash; and “kittens” were active drug imports.
Marrogi is also suspected of attempting to organise two murders.
But the charade couldn’t last once authorities realised the phone hook-ups were a deception.
Beginning in 2021, Victoria Police and the AFP began dismantling the Notorious Crime Family in a series of operations that seized $55 million worth of methamphetamine and heroin and froze tens of millions of dollars worth of property, cash, cars and a yacht alleged to be the proceeds of drug crime and money-laundering.
Marrogi received a 32-year sentence in 2022 for the murder of Kadir Ors and another 16 years were added after pleading guilty to drug trafficking in 2023.
It’s unclear how many members were in NCF at the height of its “power”, but nearly all known members are now in jail or facing major charges.
“They’re finished,” a police source said.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.