Italy might be in a deep recession but at least one section of the populace has money to burn. It might seem the stuff of movies but Mafia groups throughout Italy gained possession of more than a whopping 16 billion Euros last year – and not through hosting summer fates.
Last week the EU issued Italy with a £307 million repayment demand after proving the Mafia’s involvement in repairs made to the Salerno-Reggio Calabria autostrada. This week a report has been released by Italy’s leading environmental organisation, Legambiente, which states that the Mafia is making billions from acts of environmental destruction. The ‘Eco-mafia 2012’ report estimates that the shocking total – 16 billion Euros – is a 10% increase on what the Mafia earned from similar crimes the previous year.
The regions Sicily, Campania, Calabria and Puglia (the areas which Italy’s four principle Mafia organisations call home) are unsurprisingly the most affected. The second greatest affected regions are those which most frequently attract tourists, such as Sardinia and Tuscany. Across Italy in 2011 more than 90 environmental crimes were committed a day. These ranged from trafficking endangered species to the illegal disposal of toxic waste.
It is widely believed that many local authorities have been complicit in the Mafia’s activities. In the first half of 2012 eighteen local councils were suspected of mafia ties and consequently dissolved. The Italian police also arrested more than 300 people, twice as many as the year before whilst nearly 9000 properties were confiscated. Despite these enforcements the environmental destruction continued unabated.
Such a report, detailing the loss of billions of Euros to the Italian economy, makes it less surprising that the nations borrowing has spiralled so violently.