Parallel contagion II How has mafia entrepreneurship exploited the pandemic?

Italy: the ground zero of the mafia. Home to three of the most powerful mafia groups in the world – the Cosa Nostra in Sicily; the Camorra in Campania; and the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria – by March 2020, Italy had also cemented its place as a major epicentre of the novel coronavirus.

The pandemic, and more importantly lockdown measures imposed to contain it, has had a devastating impact not only on public health, but also on the country’s social fabric and economy.

With millions of citizens suffering a loss of income and a government that has been slow to respond, the risk of mafia groups exploiting the situation is high, both during the outbreak and now, in its aftermath, as businesses look to start their economic recovery.


Adriano is a young anti-mafia activist from a troubled and violent neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples, known as Parco Verde in the town of Caivano. It is a well-known drug-dealing area – considered off-limits by law enforcement forces themselves.

This isn’t the first time that the town’s citizens have found themselves shut indoors. But this time, the enemy is invisible, and he certainly isn’t carrying a pistol or a Kalashnikov.
Quarantine isn’t a new concept for us. Do you know how many times people have locked themselves in their homes for days at a time when there are clashes between rival clans? Parco Verde is renowned for its high rates of poverty and unemployment, not to mention the amount of informal work that takes place here. All these factors mean the area is a reservoir of human resources for the Camorra, and so, the virus is actually the least of the worries for residents of Parco Verde di Caivano.

With regard to mafia activity in the context of the pandemic, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) has carried out research into mafia involvement in three key sectors:

1. Healthcare system

2. Prisons

3. Welfare provision

A Healthy Business

"When there is health, there is everything" (Old Italian idiom)

Health systems around the world have been thrust into the spotlight amid the coronavirus pandemic. There has been a lot of talk of a recent ‘mafia infiltration’ in the Italian healthcare system during the global emergency, but mafia involvement in the sector is nothing new.

Like many other lucrative businesses, healthcare can constitute a fertile ground for criminal networks to penetrate. Diverting funds, fixing tenders, and placing affiliates in management positions are just a few examples of organized-crime groups’ modus operandi in this sector.

At the most basic level, involvement in the health sector allows mafia groups to drain substantial amounts of public money. The mafia also, however, have set their sights on managing the systems, both public and private, themselves. They weaken the public purse, while at the same time strengthening their grip on the system. It is a system of economic capture that ultimately exerts a devastating impact on ailing citizens, and their need for treatment and care.

From these figures, it is clear why the health sector is such an attractive target for the mafia and organized crime more generally.

A violent mafia scares me, even if it is a sign of weakness; a silent mafia scares me even more; a mafia that invests scares me the most. At the end of the day, what is it that organized crime really wants? To make money, … to control social lives, public lives and financial lives. To control all economic systems, by violent means if necessary: that’s their ultimate goal.

Investigator from the Servizio Centrale di Investigazione sulla Criminalità Organizzata (SCICO), a Special Department of the Guardia di Finanza

Criminal organizations are extremely flexible. In Italy, mafia groups have made canny, timely investments in the provision of medicines, medical equipment and healthcare products.

Giuseppe Cucchiara Director, anti-drugs services at Italy’s Department for Public Security, part of the Interior Ministry

Below are three of the most crucial investigations carried out into mafia infiltration in the health system in Italy, the findings of which demonstrate the true extent to which criminal actors have embedded themselves in the system for personal gain.

These anti-mafia investigations revealed the mechanisms of infiltration, management and the ability of the mafias to undermine the national health service, on the one hand by draining public money, and on the other by fuelling a private healthcare system financed by public money, but with much higher rates.

These are three cases that took place in three different regions of Southern Italy, where the ability of the mafia to influence the management of the public administration is strongest.

Picture: The arrest of Alessandro Marcianò

1. Palermo, Sicily: Operation Ghiaccio (2002)

This operation led to the arrest of Giuseppe Guttadauro, Cosa Nostra boss of the Brancaccio district, and a high-profile surgeon – nicknamed ‘the mafioso with the scalpel’. Police investigations uncovered a complex web of collusion between mafiosi, medical professionals and local politicians. The investigation into Guttadauro culminated in the arrests of Domenico Miceli (medical colleague and public-health councillor for the municipality of Palermo), Michele Aiello (a Sicilian private healthcare magnate and richest man on the island) and Salvatore ‘Totò’ Cuffaro (former President of Sicily), from whom Guttadauro received the original tip-off on bugs planted by police in their Palermo villa, where he regularly held meetings with mafia, business and political associates alike.

The symbiotic relationship between mafiosi, medical professionals, businesspeople and politicians was laid bare for all to see.

2. Locri, Calabria: The Fortugno Murder (2005)

In 2005, the Vice-President of the Calabria Regional Council, and general surgeon by trade, Francesco Fortugno, was killed in Locri, in Reggio Calabria. Father and son Alessandro and Giuseppe Marcianò, both healthcare workers in a hospital in Locri, were sentenced for the murder of Fortugno. He was killed because he was determined to clean up the Calabrian health system. As a medical professional, he was aware of the mechanisms by which the mafia had infiltrated the system.

His death had politico-mafia implications, paving the way for Domenico Crea – the candidate backed by the ‘Ndrangheta – to take his place in the regional assembly. Crea would later be arrested as a result of an investigation into the neglect and ill-treatment of residents at a care home he owned.

Care homes are the subject of a number of investigations amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to the high number of deaths as a result of gross mismanagement during the outbreak.

3. Caserta, Campania: Operation Black Cross (2015)

It is not so much the mafia that has infiltrated the health system. On the contrary, it almost seems that with our investigative operations, the state sometimes infiltrates the mafia’s health.

Chief investigator of Operation Black Cross

Operation Black Cross – named to evoke the direct contrast with the Red Cross – was a historic moment in the investigations into mafia infiltration of the public-health system. For the first time, the Azienda Sanitaria Locale – the public body responsible for local healthcare provision – wasn’t simply dissolved, but the state seized the entire hospital of ‘Sant’Anna e San Sebastiano’ in Caserta, near Naples. For the first time, investigators had concrete proof that members of the Camorra were the de facto managers of a hospital.

The investigation carried out between 2013 and 2015 revealed the true extent of the assault on the public-health system and illustrates the true extent of corruption and infiltration that had already taken root in 2007. For years, the mafia had been fixing the tender process for public contracts, which were often inflated to plunder even more public money, worth anything from a few thousand to as much as a million euros.

Furthermore, as the city’s largest hospital, the number of jobs created by the clan allowed them to further consolidate the social consensus within the community that is crucial for any mafia group.

The clan controlled the contracts for everything, from the elevators to the vending machines. From some of the most advanced diagnostic tools, to the coffee you drank at the bar

Chief investigator of Operation Black Cross

Medi-Mafia: healthcare (f)or life

A vial is worth more than gold

A symbolic phrase encapsulating the exhaustive and complex investigation into pharmaceutical trafficking, known as Operation Volcano. In 2014, The Fiumicino Guardia di Finanza entered a warehouse of counterfeit Hogan shoes in Arzano, near Naples. The agents noticed an elegant young man casually loitering in the adjacent basement. On one side of the room were the shoes; on the other, 53 thousand packages of pharmaceutical drugs, valued at €1.8 million. Nearby, they spotted a computer that was turned on. The agents called out to the man, who simply replied, ‘I’m a pharmacist’.

The young man, Eduardo Lambiase, was put under surveillance and arrested along with seven others, who protested their innocence by claiming they were thieves, and not members of the Camorra. This appeared to be correct, as they were obliged to pay a bribe to the Licciardi Camorra clan for their operation. But the clans didn’t just take money from the operation, because they recognized that simply taking money wouldn’t be sufficient to ensure that the illicit trade continued. Instead, investigations revealed how the Licciardi clan were in fact in control of the entire pharma-trafficking operation, headquartered in Cyprus and with branches in Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

After arms and narcotics, the trafficking of pharmaceuticals is among the most profitable forms of trafficking. And if you think the first two markets are complex affairs, imagine the kind of expertise you would need to operate the third.
When medicines are produced, each box has its own unique code, like a vehicle’s number plate, and to transport a shipment requires an extremely complex system of corruption. In order to pass through customs, either by land, sea or air, an entire chain of corrupt officials is necessary that will allow the boxes through, despite their unique codes identifying them as stolen goods. Alternatively, the cargo can be tampered with, by opening all the boxes, repackaging the vials in counterfeit boxes, which cost no more than a few euros to manufacture, but with a different code. Here too, a chain of corrupt officials is fundamental, because the new codes are fake and therefore there is no official record of them anywhere. We’re talking about customs agents, law-enforcement officials and all those charged with inspection of goods.
If the final destination of the medicine is Africa, then state-embedded actors cannot but be involved. Remember, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of euros here. These pharmaceuticals are not just aspirins or painkillers for a bad back, we’re talking about drugs that give someone with a tumour five more years of life, drugs that allow a patient with a chronic disease to survive. We’re talking about life or death, and he who controls this market, controls life or death. Of course this is organized crime, that is patently obvious; these aren’t just petty thieves.’

Board member of a multinational pharmaceutical company

Pharmacies are fair game

In recent years, pharmacies have become the favourite new targets of mafia groups across Italy, for two main reasons. Firstly, the investment in such a profitable sector provides an opportunity for criminal actors to launder the proceeds of their illicit activity. Secondly, it allows mafia groups to consolidate and expand their networks and facilitate the trafficking of pharmaceutical products.

An investigation into a pharmacy in Milan has revealed how members of the ‘Ndrangheta purchased a number of extremely expensive drugs: cancer drugs, antivirals and other life-saving drugs. This pharmacy, acting as a wholesaler, registered itself as a distribution centre for hospitals. When a wholesaler purchases pharmaceutical for hospitals, they are granted discounts of between 50% and 90%. But the drugs never reached the hospitals: they were resold on the black market in Africa, China and South East Asia, among others.

The suspiciously high number of ‘Ndrangheta offspring that have settled in northern Italy and graduated in pharmacology has not gone unnoticed.

Dark side of dialysis treatment

Sicily, home to the Cosa Nostra, has the third highest number of dialysis patients in Italy. Despite this, it ranks 15th of the 20 regions in Italy with regard to the number of registered kidney transplants. Furthermore, 81% of dialysis treatments in the region are administered by private clinics. Over the years, medical professionals and entrepreneurs affiliated to the Cosa Nostra have secured access to public funds through subsidies and rebates.

More importantly, however, the mafia group has successfully entrenched dialysis as a long-lasting (and profitable) treatment programme, as opposed to a considerably easier and more definitive solution to kidney failure - kidney transplants. The Cosa Nostra have established a monopoly in the dialysis market, making huge sums of money without any consideration for the best interests of the patients.

The question of what is happening on the mafia front during the COVID-19 pandemic will be answered in the coming months, but all analysis conducted since the turn of the century lays bare the level of mafia infiltration into the system.

The mafia have been entrenched in the healthcare system for so long that it is clear that to speak of mafia infiltration in the system in response to the pandemic would be historically inappropriate. In all likelihood, for some people in Italy, it’s the mafia who are actually treating them for coronavirus.

Lockdown in Lock-up

Italy's prison system has been plunged into crisis by the pandemic – and by the mafia

Italy was one of the first European countries to be hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, quickly becoming one of the world’s major epicentres of the virus. The novel coronavirus caused untold suffering in the country, with 33 964 confirmed deaths and excess mortality data suggesting a far higher death toll.

But the health crisis was swiftly followed by a social and economic crisis in Italy, with the country facing its fourth recession in just over a decade and millions of citizens facing economic hardship as a result of the strict lockdown measures imposed to contain the virus.

The damage caused by the virus, both to public health and the economy, is unprecedented in more than a century. And, as with all national emergencies, the mafia have added to the disruption, and taken advantage of it.

Picture credits: Stefano Annovazzi Lodi

From 7 to 9 March, a crisis rocked Italy when the country witnessed a number of prison riots, in some cases leading to outbreaks.

The violence was triggered by two main catalysts: a COVID-related ban on family visits and increasing risk of contagion among the prison population. But these were not the only factors that led to Italy's prison crisis: around six weeks later, the announcement that there would be an imminent release of numerous mafia bosses on health grounds caused widespread outrage.

In Italy, the so-called 41-bis prison regime is a special high-security detention system for prisoners convicted of mafia-related or terrorist offences. The regime is reserved for the most dangerous mafia bosses and provides for the complete isolation of prisoners, who are permitted no contact with the outside world.

As of November 2019, just a few months before the outbreak of the pandemic, there were 753 prisoners in Italy detained under this high-security regime. The vast majority had been convicted for mafia-linked offences.

At that time, of this segment of the prison population, 268 were from the Camorra; 230 from the Cosa Nostra; and 202 from the ‘Ndrangheta. The remaining detainees were those with links to the other organized crime groups, such as the the Sacra Corona Unita, the Mafia Foggiana, the Stidda and others.

Citizens locked up, inmates break free

Two days before the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, announced a nationwide lockdown, part of the government's measures to counter the pandemic, violent riots spontaneously erupted in Italian prisons across the peninsula on Saturday 7 March.

In a single weekend, of the 189 prisons in Italy, more than 70 were destroyed and set on fire, and a further 30 hosted peaceful protests.

Italian citizens, now confined to their homes by law, watched images broadcast of jailbreaks, prisons ablaze and battalions of law-enforcement officers struggling to maintain law and order, both inside prisons and outside. During those few days, it appeared as though the worst-case scenario was unfolding – that the country's democratic order was on the brink of collapse.

One of the most critical events was the escape of 72 inmates from a prison in the south-eastern town of Foggia, including a number of dangerous mafiosi. In the 48 hours that followed, law enforcement was able to round up 61 of them in an unprecedented manhunt, the likes of which had never been seen in the history of the Italian Republic. But many were still at large, and, like the pandemic itself, which had been steadily infiltrating the sinews of society, the public panic generated by the prison outbreaks and riots went viral on messaging services. Images of buildings on fire, prisoners on the run and mobs of detainees destroying prison cells were frenziedly shared by millions of Italians across the country.

The social-media messaging and videos gave the impression that the state was losing control of the prison system, a place of security that separates the good from the bad, the citizens from the criminals. Just as the coronavirus was tearing through the population, there was a fear that so too would the criminals.

I have no doubt that it was the mafia that orchestrated the meticulously planned riots,’ said a veteran investigator specializing in the prison system, who wished to remain anonymous. ‘As soon as the riots started, the relatives of the prisoners were immediately outside protesting – it was almost as if they knew. They did know, that is certain. They coordinated and attacked as a group.

That mafia inmates may have started the riots is a credible theory – after all, mobile phones have been discovered in high-security sections in some prisons holding 41-bis prisoners, and investigations are ongoing into the mechanisms that enabled them to be smuggled in. The ultimate objective of mafia groups within the prison system is to maintain their grip on control of their networks by communicating with the outside world. In the words of a senior prison officer, such prisoners are ‘continually sustained by their criminal world’. And, as previous experience has shown, mafia groups take advantage of emergencies.

After the escape, the release

The timing could not have been more inauspicious. Just weeks after the prison uprising, a memo sent by the department of penitentiary administration alluding to the potential release of mafia bosses from prison on grounds of ill-health came as a second blow for the Italian public, still reeling from the recent riots. The memo requested prison directors to disclose the names of all detainees with underlying health conditions in order to assess appropriate measures to be taken should the prison service not be able to provide necessary healthcare. Adequate health facilities are severely lacking in Italy’s straining prison system.

Mafia bosses’ lawyers identified a gap in the regulations that has permitted them to submit release requests for their clients, especially those above the age of 70. These are by and large the so-called ‘old bosses’. Among them are the capi dei capi – the most senior bosses of the Cosa Nostra, the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta.

Picture: Camorra boss Pasquale Zagaria

Since the beginning of the crisis, a total of 376 prisoners either convicted of mafia-type offences or in pre-trial detention for such offences have been released under house arrest.

This simply sends a message to our citizens that while they are prisoners in their own homes, mafia bosses are free to come and go as they please.

Anti-mafia magistrate

On 2 May, the head of the Department of Prison Administration, under whose watch the riots and the prison releases occurred, resigned from his post. He and his deputy were replaced with two leading antimafia magistrates, Bernardo ‘Dino’ Petralia and Roberto Tartaglia, sending a strong message that the state will act decisively against the mafia and any notion of easy prison releases.

In response to criticism, the government passed a measure that made the release of mafiosi contingent on the approval of antimafia magistrates. The new decree also legislated for the review of all prison release decisions every two weeks. In light of the new measures, a number of individuals convicted of mafia-offences were sent back to prison.

While Italy has struggled to cope with the COVID-19 emergency, as have many other European countries, Italian mafia groups have managed the emergency to perfection. Their resolute determination and capacity to coordinate activities illustrates not only the danger they pose, but also their ability to seize opportunities as soon as they arise.

Just two weeks after the first confirmed coronavirus case in Italy, the mafia orchestrated some of the most extensive prison riots in Italy’s history, showing how they are attuned to the difficulties facing the country in a state of emergency. They have also shown their intricate knowledge of the country’s legislation governing the regulations of prisons. They were able to secure access to communication and information, resulting in a number of prison releases for senior members of their syndicates.

Picture: 'Ndrangheta boss Vincenzino Iannazzo

The mafia appear to always be one step ahead of law enforcement.

They understand, and can therefore manipulate, the bureaucratic norms that regulate law and institutions.

The mafia have handled the emergency just as well as the scientists employed to counter it, leveraging the crisis to their advantage, to the consternation of law-abiding Italian people. Like the virus, the mafia have been able to risk infecting society. Every prisoner released is a victory. The mafia were not intimidated by the pandemic because they knew they had the capacity to exploit it to their own advantage.

An alternate welfare state

With citizens and businesses in economic turmoil, mafia groups are poised to step in

Picture credits: Stefano Cravero

The COVID-19 pandemic first hit the health system, then the prison system, and shortly after, the economy. Images of mafia members handing out food packages – buste della spesa – to the country’s neediest families travelled the world: a chilling example of so-called ‘mafia welfare’.

Mafia organizations have shown their ability to offer 'welfare' services during the crisis, in a bid to elicit social consent, especially among the country's more vulnerable communities

Raffaele Cantone, anti-mafia magistrate and former President of the Italian Anti-Corruption National Authority

Mafia groups have stepped in to provide food packages to those in need. But this strategy is neither new nor limited to times of emergency. Criminal actors often hand out aid to poor citizens in order to curry favour. There have been numerous investigations into the extent to which votes for local, regional and national elections are bought with money and food packages.

In order to eat, you sell your right to democracy. Bought votes are among the most damaging wounds inflicted upon society by organized crime, made all the more dangerous by its low cost. We’re talking about 50 euros, sometimes less, as if exercising your right to vote is an added bonus, rather than a right.

Francesco Piccinini, Editor-in-Chief of Fanpage.it


Ciro Corona, born and raised in Scampia and founder of the antimafia organisation Resistenza Anticamorra, manages seized assets and cultural spaces in some of Naples’ most troubled neighbourhoods.

Many like to talk about the mafia’s so-called buste della spesa, because focusing on these activities is more comfortable than talking about the vast financial transactions they carry out each and every day. But we haven’t seen that many mafia buste della spesa, in large part because we descended on their territory and countered them with food packages of our own. There is too much talk about mafia welfare and not enough about the welfare provided by the generous people of this region. And in fact it’s not just out of generosity that people have donated, but they did so specifically to counter the Camorra, because in areas where the mafia have provided aid, the greatest concern must be the risk of loansharking and extortion. That’s why the battle against the Camorra needs to be fought first and foremost by the state

Picture credits: Flavio Ronco

However, food packages are not the only thing mafia clans are delivering.

Mafiosi have been delivering supermarket shopping to the elderly free of charge, which are often accompanied with a cash gift of 50 euros. These unsolicited gifts are part of a strategy used by criminal groups to create dependency among the communities they operate in. If an elderly person receives a gift from the mafia group, they may then be expected to allow the use of their home as a location for drug dealing, for example. In some extreme cases, the mafia may then even seize the homes as a repayment of the debt that has been accumulated against their will.

When a person receives help from a mafioso, it is clear that he is being coerced into being indebted to the mafioso in some way or other. There have been many examples of this in the past: people who hid mafia guns, who gave shelter to fugitives, or hosted their meetings.

Raffaele Cantone, anti-mafia magistrate and former President of the Italian Anti-Corruption National Authority


Don Maurizio Patriciello, is the parish priest in Parco Verde, near Naples, and a prominent antimafia figure, renowned for his public battles against the ecomafia in Naples:

The Camorra keeps a record of who refuses their help. If you turn down the their offer of assistance, they put a black mark down next to your name; they know you are not with them, so you must be against them.
This is something that isn’t talked about enough, but there is resistance to help from the mafia, even from the most poor and vulnerable. The Church, as always, has been by the side of the needy, and we have had great help from people all across Italy. So, you see, where there is Camorra and ‘mafia welfare’, there is also a real response from civil society. I know the Camorra don’t like me, but me and my people will keep on going with our heads held high. They are trying to gain social consensus, they want to drag people onto their side, but we won’t let them.

The image of an ostensibly altruistic mafia – which we know to be simply an act of cynical opportunism – is only partially true, and misleading portrayals of the mafia in Italy are not without precedent. Folkloristic depictions of mafiosi drew attention away from the more dangerous and pervasive mafia: the economic mafia.

Mafia organizations have at their disposal an enormous amount of illicit resources that they can inject into the legal economy at a time where the private sector, in particular small and medium enterprises, is facing a liquidity crisis.

Giuseppe Cucchiara, Director, anti-drugs services at Italy’s Department for Public Security, part of the Interior Ministry

In the Apulian city of Bari, there is another development that has caused concern.

Reports suggest that mafia groups are using supermarket home delivery services to distribute drugs. Suspicions were initially raised when deliveries were seen being made early in the morning or late at night after supermarket closing times. The individuals making the deliveries were not supermarket workers, but clan members.

The dominant mafia group in the region of Apulia is the Sacra Corona Unita. As with all mafia groups in Italy, the Apulian mafia have invested heavily in the legal economy in order to launder illicit proceeds, and the supermarket sector has not escaped their clutches. The mafiosi, therefore, use their connections in the various supermarkets as a vehicle for drug delivery.

Picture credits: Covid-19 Emergency, checkpoint in the city of Bari. (Italian Ministry of the Interior)

Despite the relatively small-scale operations carried out by the various mafia groups across Italy, such as grocery and drug deliveries, the risk of large-scale financial activity – significant investment in the legal economy – is far greater, given the power it allows mafia groups to yield.

To understand why the ground in Italy is so fertile for Italian mafia opportunism, consider the economic impact of the pandemic and one of the tightest lockdowns to be imposed anywhere in the world.

While the health emergency has disproportionately affected northern Italy, the social and economic impacts have united the country, impacting all regions, albeit in different ways.

The south risks a greater adverse impact in the recovery phase after the virus has died down, as a result of the long-term economic struggle that the region has experienced. Indeed, research suggests that medium and large enterprises are at greater risk of default in southern Italy.

Picture credit: Ralf Steinberger, Restaurant gallery in Venice, Italy (23 February 2020)

The economic disparity between the north and south in Italy is crucial in understanding the role mafia groups will go on to play in the coming months and years.

Although the northern regions have been hit hardest in terms of economic losses, the increased risk of business default in the south is particularly concerning. The combination of the two factors outlined presents the Italian mafia groups with a country in crisis, which allows them to invest wherever they see fit.

More importantly, however, given the risks facing medium and large enterprises in the south, rather than hijacking small businesses, mafia groups have the opportunity to invest in these larger companies, saving jobs and thus consolidating their social consensus in the process. The mafia’s ability to move from supplementing citizens’ grocery bags to making corporate acquisitions of significant value demonstrates the depth and spread of their reach into the national landscape.

Picture: Wheelbarrow in the streets of Troia, province of Foggia (Apulia) - 6 March 2020

Investing in legitimate businesses is one of the primary objectives of criminal organisations across the world, because it allows them to launder their ill-gotten gains. Their resources are so vast that often they will even invest in companies operating at a loss, so long as it permits them to recycle their money.

Mafia groups are prepared to launder cash in legal activities despite sometimes suffering huge losses in the process. This shows these criminal organizations are ready to sacrifice cash in order to 'legalize' their money. Meanwhile, the pandemic has given rise to many more such opportunities for these criminal organizations

Roberto Tartaglia, antimafia magistrate and the Deputy Head of the Dipartimento Amministrazione Penitenziaria, Italy’s prison administration department.

Picture credits: Mando Gomez

The extent to which mafia groups may seek to reinforce their position within the legitimate economy during, and in the aftermath of, the COVID-19 pandemic is of particular concern.

Criminal groups are eager to offer financial support to struggling businesses, who often have no choice but to accept the financial resources, in the absence of support from legitimate channels, in order to strengthen their grip on the legal economy.

Mafias use intimidation derived from violence like a surgeon uses a scalpel: with great precision. Their weapon of choice is corruption, underhand dealings […] and dishonest business owners. We are faced with a new mafia, one that has transformed violence into economic strength and entrepreneurial capacity.’

Guardia di Finanza report seen by the GI-TOC


Creato con immagini di National Cancer Institute - "Cancer Surgeons" • Luis Melendez - "We were on a medical mission for spine surgery in Monterrey, México. Our team took care of more than 60 patients all over Mexico with a group of volunteers including doctors, nurses, admin team, and more…" • National Cancer Institute - "A female pharmacist is examining a vial in a pharmacy." • Michał Parzuchowski - "Poland on sick leave " • Martino Pietropoli - "untitled image" • Xavi Cabrera - "supermarket terror" • Arnaud Jaegers - "Symbol of democracy this picture show a child and his mom voting for french presidential elections."