Italy’s mafia finds new ways to gain from pandemic crisis
The typical image of a mafioso is associated with criminal collisions, bribes to officials, and cruel competition with rivals. Yet, it is just a banal image. Italy’s mafia has proven more than once that it is not just a criminal syndicate, it is a cluster of close-knit groups working together as a family.
Italy’s mafia has survived many economic downfalls in the country. No wonder, it has worked out new ways to profit from the coronavirus pandemic as well. The mafia has even tightened its grip on small and medium businesses during the crisis. According to the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (DIA), mafia families took advantage of the country’s economic crisis by providing struggling businesses with assistance. Therefore, there is a risk that small and medium-sized companies could be swallowed up by the mafia, turning into an instrument for money laundering and recycling illicit capital. Of course, DIA outlines that Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra, and Camorra, the strongest and wealthiest mafia syndicates, pose the greatest threat.
Notably, the mafia itself is suffering large-scale financial losses due to lockdowns. Income from the usual businesses such as buying and selling stolen goods, the supply of counterfeit products, or robberies has significantly declined. Italy has suffered the worst economic contraction since the Second World War. Thus, plenty of companies face bankruptcy and Italy’s mafia offers its “sincere help”. By providing usurious loans, the mafia just exploits the vulnerable. Mafiosi kindly offer financial aid but when entrepreneurs accept it they switch to traditional methods of intimidation. Apparently, Italian law enforcement has lots of work to do to save small and medium-sized businesses.