Essays Italian Mafia

The easiest way to define a mafia is as a freemasonry of criminals – it’s the freemasons for murderers – and that’s what the Cosa Nostra and ’Ndrangheta are.The Camorra is different in that it’s a catch-all term for a much less centrally coordinated archipelago of gangs that range from city drug dealers to clans that look much more like the Sicilian mafia, like the Casalesi – who threatened to kill the journalist Roberto Saviano.The Camorra in the form of an Honoured Society re-emerged in the 1970s, in Raffaele Cutolo’s remarkable Nuova Camorra Organizzata.Cutolo probably borrowed the ideas for his organisation – the most numerous in Italian mafia history – from the ’Ndrangheta, into which he was initiated, as well as from books about the old Neapolitan Honoured Society he borrowed from prison libraries.Last year alone, more than 140 journalists were threatened by them and there are still very high-level politicians being investigated for mafia links. Your books talk about myths and misconceptions of the mafia in Italy. There are so many, and they are often so contradictory.

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In the late 1970s and 1980s, large parts of Sicily looked like they would become narco-provinces.

Add to that, it had also heavily infiltrated the Italian state.

The two Salvo cousins – who were probably both Men of Honour, as mafia initiates are known – ran the company that collected most of Sicily’s taxes and pocketed about 10% of the island’s tax revenue.

The Cosa Nostra was controlling the wholesale heroin market in the United States and making rivers of dollars.

It had the organisation, wealth and firepower to confront the Italian state directly – quite literally to kill anyone who stood in its way.

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