The mafia is a “globalising phenomenon” as its influence spreads to other European countries, Italy’s anti-mafia chief has warned.
Giuseppe Governale, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia investigative unit DIA, said it was not just an Italian problem.
“Organised crime is moving abroad, globalising,” he stated during a meeting with the foreign press in Rome on Tuesday.
Mr Governale said that the Calabrian mob – known as the ‘Ndrangheta – is “underestimated” and “an extraordinarily powerful organisation”.
He also acknowledged that the more famous Sicilian Cosa Nostra had “always been present” in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Despite criminal organisations having contacts all over the world in countries where they operate, ‘Ndrangheta “tends to replicate the structures it has established in Calabria,” he insisted.
He referenced Brussels as an example, claiming “they don’t buy just buildings but entire neighbourhoods” in the Belgium capital.
The ‘Ndrangheta operates independently from the Sicilian Mafia, known as the Cosa Nostra, though there is contact between the two.
It has spread towards Northern Italy and worldwide since the 1950s and is involved in drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering activities.
Cosa Nostra’s core activities are protection racketeering, the arbitration of disputes between criminals and the organising and oversight of illegal agreements and transaction.
Mr Governale added that the criminal organisation was today “in great organisational difficulty after suffering substantial blows”.
With the exception of kingpin Matteo Messina Denaro, most of the mob’s upper ranks have been arrested.
Denaro has been on the run since 1993, but Mr Governale said he was no longer regarded as the mob’s supreme leader.
He believes the death of former Cosa Nostra kingpin, Toto Rina, who died in prison in 2017, could prompt the mafia to name a new head.
Although Cosa Nostra has been weakened, “the conditions linked to its environment and that allow its development still exist,” Mr Governale informed.