The Italian mafia is like “the reed which bends but does not break“, it adapts to the crisis provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic: the general of the riflemen Giuseppe Governale has no illusions.
This 62-year-old Sicilian was the former commander of the carabinieri on his island. He is currently the head of the Anti-Mafia Investigations Directorate (DIA), which coordinates and oversees all the investigations in Italy of organized crime.
“Experience tells us that the Italian mafia has the skill to know how to use what seems a threat to transform it into an opportunity“, he explains to AFP. “The mafia will adopt the mode of survival of the mafia in difficult times, which can be summarized by: the reed bends but does not break. The mafia starts from the principle that it is a fleeting moment that must be endured in doing less business, but is already watching the start of the economic reconstruction process “, warns the senior officer.
Take advantage of system flaws during reconstruction
“What can we predict? That the difficult moment could end in May-June, after which the Italian, French and German economies will have to start again. And this is where the mafia will seek to interfere because in the periods reconstruction we will look a little less at bureaucratic procedures, “predicts the head of the DIA.
“They will look for system flaws. Economic reconstruction after the coronavirus will be a very big event, there will be a lot of money going around and our goal will be to find a balance between the demands of reconstruction and the fight against it. ‘mafia infiltration’, specifies the general.
“We are aware that there will be infiltration attempts, the mafia is always one step ahead, it is certainly already preparing plans to take advantage of this situation, but we too have an ad hoc plan against them”, assured Mr. Governale.
Mafia trial stopped
“My work as a prosecutor is more difficult in these times of coronavirus and the trials of hundreds of accused (of mafia crimes, note) are stopped”, declares to AFP Nicola Gratteri, prosecutor of Catanzaro, chief town of Calabria, land of the powerful ‘Ndrangheta. Trials in Italy have been halted since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, with justice only dealing with the most urgent cases.
The journalist Roberto Saviano, author of the book “Gomorra” on the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia, which gave birth to a series of the same name, believes that “the pandemic is an ideal situation for the mafia for a simple reason”.
“When you are hungry, you look for bread and you do not watch who gives it to you; if you need a medicine, you pay for it without looking at who sells it to you, you want it and full stop,” he wrote. in the daily La Repubblica.
“Among the actors of this new departure there will also, unfortunately, be the mafia”, adds in an article in the daily La Stampa Giuseppe Pignatone, attorney general of Rome until May 2019 when he retired.
Small entrepreneurs “without financial oxygen” could turn to the mafia
The mafia will look first “expansion in the sectors where it is traditionally present” like building or garbage management, then it will finance small entrepreneurs who will then have their hands tied and then it will seek “to infiltrate the realization of the necessary works and infrastructures (…) financed by very important public investments”, he assures.
Three men, including two witnesses in mafia trials, also warn in an open letter to the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella about the danger that small entrepreneurs, short of money because of the crisis caused by the coronavirus, turn to the Mafia to obtain fresh money allowing them to temporarily continue their activities.
Small entrepreneurs could “in a desperate gesture” turn to the only “At the moment having significant liquidity, members of organized crime which is always ready to do business on the back of entrepreneurs without financial oxygen and without certain prospects of recovery” economical, write the three men.