Mafia Distributes Food To Quarantined People In Need

Italy has found itself dealing with a terrible countrywide COVID-19 lockdown, and interestingly, the Mafia is giving aid to people struggling to make ends meet. 

Reportedly, footage of gangsters delivering living essentials has been circulating across the web in the last few weeks. According to The Guardian, the Mafia brought food and other items to some of the most impoverished areas in the south of Italy, specifically Campania, Calabria, Sicily, and Puglia. Italy is one of the places worst hit by the current crisis, with more than 160,000 registered cases and over 16,000 losses of life.

“For over a month, shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs have been closed,”  Nicola Gratteri, antimafia investigator and head of the prosecutor’s office in Catanzaro, told The Guardian. “Millions of people work in the grey economy, which means that they haven’t received any income in more than a month and have no idea when they might return to work. The government is issuing so-called shopping vouchers to support people. If the state doesn’t step in soon to help these families, the mafia will provide its services, imposing their control over people’s lives.”

According to Luciana Lamorgese, Italy’s minister of interior, the Mafia could “take advantage of the rising poverty” in the country.

There are concerns that the Mafia might try to use the dire situation to gain the support of people and to recruit new members to its organization.

Federico Varese, a University of Oxford professor of criminology, notes that crime families often “aspire to govern territories and markets,” and as a result, this could draw struggling residents to supporting them.

Furthermore, he wanted to make clear that mafia deliveries “are not gifts,” but favors and people should expect to have to pay back at some point. 

“Mafia bosses consider their cities as their own fiefdom,” Gratteri said. “The bosses know very well that in order to govern, they need to take care of the people in their territory. And they do it by exploiting the situation to their advantage. In the people’s eyes, a boss who knocks on the door offering free food is a hero. And the boss knows that he can then count on the support of these families when necessary, when, for example, the mafia sponsors a politician for election who will further their criminal interests.”

You can see France24’s report on the story in the video below.

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