Three sheets of paper covered in the code were found in the home of Gianni Cretarola, arrested last summer over the murder of mafia boss Vincenzo Femia in January 2013, La Repubblica reported on Thursday.
The notes were written in a mix of Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese characters no longer in use and, once the code was cracked, revealed details of the secret world of the Calabria-based crime syndicate.
“How can you recognise a young man of honour? With a star of gold on his brow, a knight’s cross on his chest and prize of gold in his hand," the script said.
“And how is it that these beautiful things are never seen? Because they carry them in the flesh, skin and bones."
The text also went into detail of the initiation process, in which a prospective member cuts himself in order to show his allegiance to the mafia clan.
Two puzzle enthusiasts, who are part of the police force, were able to work out the code without using any computer software or external resources, La Repubblica said.
This is not the first time Italian police have come across details of ‘Ndrangheta ceremonies. Last summer, investigators in Calabria found a 12-page document which revealed information about similar mafia rituals.