Andreas Ulrich has an in-depth look at exactly how the Calabrian Mafia, known as the ‘Ndrangheta, operate in Germany, over at Der Spiegel.You may have heard of the ‘Ndrangheta. Like their Sicilian counterparts, the Mafia, they are a criminal brotherhood. However, unlike the mafia, the group, from the nearby Italian region of Calabria, rely on strict blood-relationships rather than a pyramid structure (hence less informants) — and they’re growing rapidly.
U.S. Officials have called Calebria a “failed state” because of their activities, and estimate that as much as 3 per cent of the Italian GDP is a result of them. Italian officials once estimated that 80 per cent of Europe’s cocaine entered through Calebria.
Ulrich finds that a lot of this cocaine ends up in Germany, originating in South America and passing past a series of corrupt officials (the biggest expense, apparently. Shipments are only caught when the bribes are “too small”.)
The whole thing is almost comically easy, but there’s one big problem — what to do with all that money:
The clan earns millions with each new shipment. That’s why the most difficult part of his job, [gang member] Vincenzo explains, is to know “how to invest the money.” But nowadays there is no lack of competent businesspeople. Thanks to the drug millions, the mafiosi were able to send their children to the best schools, and today they are lawyers, tax consultants, bankers and doctors. They run money-laundering operations at the highest levels.
The gang uses people with no prior convictions — often financial experts — to invest their money in stocks and property.
They’re even moving into politics — “the source of government contracts and subsidies” as one gang member describes it — buying votes off of ex-pat Italians to get people such as Berlusconi party member Nicola Di Girolamo elected.
(Di Girolamo was, of course, arrested for laundering ‘Ndrangheta money in 2010.)
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