The two involved clans, the Strangio-Nirta and Pelle-Vottari-Romeo families, both belong to the 'Ndrangheta crime organization. After a fight at a carnival celebration in 1991 turned ugly, two young men from Strangio-Nirta were killed, leading to a series of feuds. In May 1993, four people were killed in an hour. Shortly thereafter, the old patriarch Antonio Nirta imposed a peace with the help of the De Stefano clan from Reggio Calabria, which held for some time. A truce was called in 2000.
The feud resumed after an honour killing on January 5, 2005. Domenico Giorgi of the Nirta-Strangio clan killed Salvatore Favasuli a relative of the Pelle-Vottari clan, culpable of having threatened Giorgi’s girlfriend. Giorgi fled to Piedmont, but the family of Favasuli killed his brother Antonio Giorgi. The Nirta-Strangio clan reacted by shooting Francesco Pelle, "Ciccio Pakistan", while on the balcony with his newborn child. A bullet entered his back and he remained paralyzed. From his wheelchair he claimed revenge, and on Christmas Day, December 25, 2006, they attacked the house of a boss of the rival Nirta-Strangio clan, Giovanni Luca Nirta, killing his wife Maria Strangio. At the funeral of Maria Strangio, her cousin Giovanni Strangio appeared with gun, presumably to kill members of the Pelle-Romeo clan. He was arrested and released in July 2007. Until August 2007, five more murders and eight attempted murders in Calabria were attributed to the feud.
During the reconstruction of Christmas at the trial in 2011 the prosecution said that there was a "state of war" between the two clans. Evidence collected by phone taps, interceptions and declarations of turncoats showed that the instigator of the attack was Francesco Pelle, also known as 'Ciccio Pakistan', while the order came from Franco Vottari. Among the perpetrators of the crime, was Sebastiano Vottari, a brother of Franco.
The conflict then received significant new public attention on 15 August 2007 when six men belonging to the Pelle-Romeo clan were shot dead in their cars in front of a pizzeria near the train station of Duisburg in western Germany. One of the killed men, Marco Marmo, was seen as responsible for the murder of Maria Strangio. It is believed that the men had moved to Germany to escape the feud. Giovanni Strangio was identified as one of the two gunmen who fired more than 70 shots. The second gunman is believed to be Strangio’s brother-in-law Giuseppe Nirta (born in 1973), also wanted for international cocaine trafficking.