sabato 17 luglio 2010

Married to the Mob

Alexander Stille per Foreign Policy, 16 luglio 2010. Comincia così:

On July 13, Italian police arrested more than 300 members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia syndicate -- one of the largest crackdowns on organized crime in the country's history. The vast scale of the operation -- with some 3,000 police agents carrying out 305 arrests, conducting 55 searches, and seizing criminal assets worth an estimated $75 million -- is testimony to an extremely well-coordinated police investigation operating simultaneously in northern and southern Italy.

Every few years after a major mafia crackdown, the American press tends to trumpet a crucial turnabout in the war against organized crime in Italy. But the truth is, the high number of arrests is also an indication of the growth and pervasiveness of one of Italy's strongest and least well-known crime groups. One hundred and sixty of the arrests took place in Milan, the financial capital of northern Italy, where the 'Ndrangheta is believed to have 500 affiliates. Less known than Sicily's Cosa Nostra and the Camorra, the Neapolitan equivalent of the mafia, the 'Ndrangheta has remained much more elusive. According to the Italian think tank Eurispes, it is also one of the wealthiest of Italy's organized crime groups, accounting for about 50 billion euros a year, about half of it from illegal drugs. (Eurispes estimates that organized crime accounts for about 9 percent of Italy's GDP, and the 'Ndrangeta accounts for about a third of that.)

The recent blitz carried out in Italy appears to be a genuine accomplishment and not merely a public relations exercise. In more than two years of patient investigations, police and prosecutors have gathered a staggering amount of evidence -- reportedly 64,000 hours of videotape and more than 1 million phone conversations.

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