According to the country’s first comprehensive report on organized crime since the start of the pandemic, the provision of mafia “welfare” to struggling Italian small businesses increased sharply in the first months of the lockdown. Covid-19.
The Anti-Mafia Investigations Directorate (DIA) report said there was a significant threat that organized criminals would take advantage of the country’s economic crisis to take over small businesses after initially providing them with assistance.
Mafia groups offer “to companies in difficulty a form of social protection as an alternative to [public and private sector] institutions, but then adopt the traditional intimidating conduct aimed at gaining control of their economic activities ”.
The report, which covers the period from January to June of last year, indicated that there was a risk that small and medium-sized entrepreneurial activities “would be engulfed in the medium term by crime, thus becoming an instrument of money laundering. money and recycling of illicit capital ”. .
The warning comes as Italian mafia-type groups adjust their operations to offset the decline in other criminal opportunities following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown last March.
Italy suffered its worst economic contraction since World War II after leading the way in Europe by imposing a lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which has killed more than 95,000 people in the country since the start of the ‘epidemic.
The country has one of the highest weights of small and medium-sized businesses in the EU, with sectors such as hospitality more exposed to the economic downturn caused by foreclosure restrictions.
There has been a decrease in crimes such as handling stolen goods, counterfeiting and theft, in line with strict restrictions on freedom of movement at the start of the lockdown, according to the report. The cases of fire damage to buildings, an indicator of a possible protection racketeering and false insurance claims, however, remained stable compared to the same period in 2019.
The report also warned against the likelihood that organized crime would try to “drain the resources that will be allocated to the revival of the country”, as the new government of Mario Draghi is working on an economic plan that will involve spending more than 200 billion euros in EU stimulus funds.
The semi-annual DIA Organized Crime Report mainly focuses on the three main mafia-type groups in Italy, Calabria ‘Ndrangheta, Sicilian Cosa Nostra and Neapolitan Camorra.
He noted that the ‘Ndrangheta, the strongest and wealthiest of the groups due to its prominence in international drug trafficking from Latin America to Europe, had suffered a slight decline in power as a result of large-scale criminal investigations and the gradual increase in the number of criminal family informants.
The report also highlighted evidence uncovered by Italian law enforcement regarding embryonic attempts by members of the New York Gambino criminal family to rekindle historic ties with the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.