Criminal Organisations in Southern Continental Italy: Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita
Mr. Carlo Alfiero, Carabinieri Brigadier General - Commander of the Carabinieri Officers' Academy
I have organised my speech selecting some of the most significant aspects of the topic:
- the old Camorra, mainly a folkloristic and individualistic phenomenon;
- the great transformation into organised crime;
- today's Camorra, an enterprise contaminating the social system;
- the foreseeable future of the Camorra.
Firstly, however, I feel it is important to give a general overview of this social pathology, a real "cancer" for the society of the Campania region, with dangerous "metastasis" already spreading out to other Italian regions.
The word "Camorra", whose etymology is uncertain, has always indicated an illicit behaviour, an unfair and dishonest way of acting, an abuse of power of the stronger over the weaker. The term has two meanings. It indicates, in fact, the phenomenon in its complexity but, also simply the object of its activity. This second alternative gives an unequivocable indication of its original and still prevalent activity which is extortion.
Marked by a sort of delinquent spontaneity, the Camorra starts as an urban phenomenon and it rapidly becomes a dynamic, adaptable organisation, susceptible to changes and camouflage so as to adjust easily to new situations, capable of surviving after repression, it re-emerges forcefully every time one thinks to have defeated it.
1. The origins of Camorra
Historically speaking it is possible to single out three periods in the life of the so-called original Camorra:
- a first period, from the beginning of the 19th century up to the unification of Italy, when it was like a sect with well defined roles (capintesta e capintriti, camorrista, picciotto, giovanotti onorati), rules (o' frieno) rituals and well defined spheres and even its own courts (the big and the small mother);
- a second period which covers the first post-unification repressions at the end of the 1900s, when the Camorra began to leave its own context, and spread into the civil society polluting and conditioning its economic and social layers;
- a third period, with the strong repression of the phenomenon due to the growing awareness by the working classes of the inability of the Camorra to act on their behalf (from the beginning of the 20th century to the post-war era).
The phenomenon almost disappears and dissolves itself into small local figures (guappi, presidenti dei prezzi, mediatori di bestiami) between the traditional Camorra folklore, and urban gangsterism.
In this way we reach the contemporary age, beginning with the '50s and '60s, with the development in Campania of smuggling and the first contacts with Marseilles criminals and the Sicilian Mafia that brought with them new systems of organisation and of exploitation of crimes.
It is however in the mid '70s, with the appearance of drugs, that the Camorra begins to exploit its smuggling network and with the advent of Cutolo it becomes the strongest and most wide-spread criminal organisation ever seen in Italy. With the scientific application of extortion the traditional structure of the Camorra changes and the great transformation starts.
2. The great transformation
This "great transformation" develops during the '70s and the '80s.
The Camorra from a folkloristic and substantially spontaneous criminal phenomenon, becomes organised crime. The need for a structure develops from the need to organise the extortion activity, choosing the victims and transforming the single objectives into common ones.
Luckily, however, the organisation does not reach very high levels: the camorra is not geared towards cohesive processes which go beyond the clan. The new system gave rise, however, through the organisation of the extortion collecting activites, to an efficient "predatory phase" with a large accumulation of money and with the consequent need to reinvest.
This is how the Camorra as an enterprise, with connections in the legal market, the business world and the political administrative system was born.
a. The scientific organisation of extortion. The Cutolo myth
It was Cutolo who scientifically organised the extortion activity with criteria of expansion and regional planning.
The criminal empire of the N.C.O. (New Organised Camorra) through the conscription of young delinquents form the suburbs, was founded on a capillary division of the territory and of the tasks.
The system directly controlled by the leaders of the organisation passed through an intermediary level of collectors and closed with a gang of young delinquents with the same collecting function.
The effects on the dynamics of the local market are heavy but the system is so efficient as to create a situation of economic balance in which the costs of racketeering are transferred onto the consumers increasing the final prices.
The proceeds from the extortions are in part distributed, in a sort of mutual society, to people in need or ill, to the victims of clan-wars, and to those detained and to their families.
Cutolo becomes a myth. As a criminal upstart, he obtains an unprecedented consensus for a member, even if important, of the clan and his organisation reaches aspects of dangerousness never recorded before for a criminal gang.
b. Drugs and the Sicilian interests in Naples
Drugs represent the economic accelerator which makes the Camorra financially independent.
In reality, drugs allow the camorrista an enormous and rapid "primitive accumulation" and they push him up to the rank of businessman (entrepreneur), financier (financial backer) and basic operator. This growth could also be achieved using other means but, never so rapidly.
But, why do drugs arrive in Naples, and why so late? Naples is a very important cross-roads for Italy as well as for Europe, present in all the well tested international smuggling channels and in the network entwined with this trafficking, there is also a technical-environmental reason: drugs allow a quick and thorough distribution in the "quarters" and "sub-quarters" of the city. The drug circulation in Naples is based on a network of thousands of selling points, even mobile, open day and night, and this combines very well with Camorra's urban nature allowing a constant and capillary pressure on the young affiliates to promote the spreading and consumption of drugs. Drugs arrive in Naples in significant quantities only after the Sicilian Mafia's consensus. It is a sort of operative agreement between the two criminal organisations which opens the way to the double sided heroin-cocaine market.
The agreement does not entail a complete alliance, the two groups maintain their own identity, character and autonomy. The agrement stems from a rigorous reasoning on the control of the markets. The Sicilian Mafia must guarantee the Atlantic heroin route to Cosa Nostra, who in the U.S. is experiencing difficulties because of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Puerto Rican competition.
The Mafia wants, therefore, to rely on the Camorra for logistic support, distribution, runners, and the exploitation of well tested smuggling routes. Also in order to be able to condition in some way the Colombian producers, it wants to be present on the cocaine market.
c. Fighting amongst the clans
The Mafia does not worry about expenses when it sets itself a target. Its arrival in Campania is marked by the physical elimination of all competitors. On the other hand, even Cutolo does not acknowledge limits to the imposition of his law on extortions. He even demands "grafts" from the smugglers of the clans tied to the Mafia.
The situation becomes unbearable and explodes in a terrible conflict. The clans tied to the Mafia join forces and call themselves the "Nuova Famiglia" ( New Family), giving way in the three years '80 - '83 to the bloodiest war ever seen, the last mortal blows of this war are still being launched.
The N.C.O., however, experiences defeat also because of heavy contrasting activities carried out by the police forces, and also because of defections. Many members also turned State's witnesses (pentiti).
But the clans of the "Nuova Famiglia" take up their autonomous and often conflictual programs again, very rapidly, gathering, even if without a rigid plan, around the most charismatic members of the entire organisation: Lorenzo Nuvoletta, on one side, and Antonio Bardellino (who will be replaced by Carmine Alfieri), on the other.
The present criminal scenario in Naples, and in its hinterland still reflects, even if indirectly, this situation. The creation of a new cartel has never been confirmed and it seems to have been discarded after the arrest by the Carabinieri, after 10 years at large, of Carmine Alfieri who, in the current Camorra, had risen to be a symbol of the modern criminal culture, more business oreintated.
3. Today's Camorra
- it hasn't got a vertical or hierarchical structure. Only on two occasions has it structured itself on a hierarchical model: with Cutolo and with the clans of the "Nuova Famiglia" (who joined forces to defeat Cutolo) but then restored their old autonomous and conflictual characteristics;
- it has an urban character: therefore geared towards trade and relations with the institutions. It can integrate with the poorest classes and knows how to mix with widespread illegality;
- it is indifferent to political ideologies: its mercenary tradition makes it available to serve whoever can exchange favours with it;
- even when it has apparently supported political causes it has done so by "tying" itself to individual politicians and not to political parties or lobbies. Its ties to politics are never direct or explicit;
- it exploits social disorders;
- it is pervasive: it is cynically and opportunistically present wherever there is something useful to obtain, a service to ensure, a profitable business to do, or a political relation to start;
- it tries to achieve total control of its territory and it has strong ties with it.
This is difficult to understand, especially if referred to the leaders of the organisation, but it is vital as it was shown by the large number of high-ranking fugitives captured in their areas of origin, in modest and uncomfortable shelters when they could have taken advantage of prestigious hotels in Italy or abroad. The fact is that the leaders do not want to go very far, so as not to lose their authority in the area and the consensus which allows them to carry out their profitable exchanges with anyone interested. Besides, they do not ignore that their own "supporters" are ready to replace them as soon as their ability to control the situation lessens.
It is not geared towards strategic and total alliances. Sometimes, it has had important understandings with the Mafia, as we have previously seen, but the Camorra has never kept them in a steady or institutional way.
b. The present situation
Today's Camorra presents itself with two very important characteristics:
- as a multiplier of all the criminal phenomenon (common, political and economic crime, corruption, etc.); and
- significant dimensions (107 clans with about 6,000 affiliates and about 1,000 known "supporters").
If we consider families and relatives, we are not far from reality if we calculate 50 - 60,000 people directly involved in the phenomenon and at least as many who share, or at least, who tolerate it.
It is an army that lives off society, works against society and interacts with it (collusions, elections, etc.)
For a more detailed picture:
- in the centre of Naples and in the immediate hinterland, a dense urban concentration of people, about 30 clans operate. Their main activities are: extortions, trafficking and selling of drugs, "toto" (illegal football pools) and illegal lotto and the smuggling of cigarettes. There are also a apparently legal businesses;
- in the province of Naples, the main sources of finance for the 40 clans counted are public contracts, "grafts" from businesses and robbing T.I.R.s (18 wheelers) which transport very high-priced goods;
- in the province of Caserta, the 12 clans present obtain their profits from the trafficking of drugs, public contracts, frauds and counterfeiting, and from racketeering;
- even in the area of Salerno, there are about 10 clans devoted to extortions, trafficking of drugs, and robbing T.I.R.s;
- in the Benevento and Avellino areas, the main targets are in the sector of extortions, of the control and trafficking of drugs, and robberies. This phenomenon is limited to two relatively small areas: the "Vallo di Lauro" and the "Sannio Occidentale".
All the knowledge we have today on the Camorra from Campania, has been gathered thanks to a lengthy, difficult and rational job of the police forces especially the "Arma dei Carabinieri" which, by using its diffusion throughout the national territory, has proven able to face on the same territory a criminal phenomenon whose main objective is the obsessive control of it.
c. The economy of the Camorra
In the beginning, the Camorra only had its potential of violence.
Completed its predatory stage, in which it has obtained the primitive accumulation of resources, it now finds itself managing resources which exceed the needs of survival and organisation, it has therefore money to re-invest. The problem, at least at the beginning, isn't an easy one because among its members noone is business orientated: this is solved either by moving on very simple levels, in the bulding sector for example where it already possesses a specific knowledge, or by going towards the illegal market where the rules of the game are closer to the criminal frame of mind.
But even when the re-investment happens on the legal market - as in the bulding sector - the Camorra "business" presents a high rate of internal illegality because the methods to grab and accomplish jobs remain illegal. Furthermore, it is really the high level of illegality which allows it - in the absence of specific competences - to survive and to dominate the market.
The predatory logic remains and in the business organisation it is translated into the exploitation of atypical competitive advantages:
- discouraging competitors through the use of violence;
- compression of salaries, either giving lower salaries or salaries which do not include "social security" contributions, in the certainty that no one will complain;
- tax evasion, even through intimidation, declaring less income and more expenses.
This step, from the predatory level to the "business" level presents in the province a faster rate of development. On the other hand, there are sectors requiring a large pool of consumers like the illegal lotto, smuggling, and selling of drugs which would have no sense out of a city like Naples with such a high urban concentration of people.
d. Relations with the political-administrative world
The following area of interest for organised crime is in the relationships with the political-administrative world.
This in the South is almost mandatory, because in this area the only important economic entity is the Public Administration through its local offices. There are no other strong entities: the money which circulates passes only through the public institutions and mainly through the town councils.
It is with them, monopolistic holders of social services of public utility - such as environment (roads, gardens etc...) cleaning, funeral services... that the Camorra weaves "business" dealings.
Naturally, the winning of publics contract allows a distribution of wealth through jobs and income, giving the Camorra groups the opportunity to gain and consolidate consensus.
From this point of view, it isn't always true that the consensus, even in electoral terms, is extorted by force. The consensus is an automatic consequence of the opportunity which the Camorra is able to offer the population.
It becomes easy for organisations that are already well rooted in the territory to compare themselves to public institutions and, once they have entered the mechanisms of the public administration, even to replace them also through blackmailing. For example, let us think about the pressure companies that have a public contract for the cleaning of premises can exert, they can bring a local public office to its knees simply by not working for some days.
4. The post-"tangentopoli" (clean-hand revolution) Camorra
"Tangentopoli" has had an undeniable effect in every sector, alerting the public opinion on the themes of ethics and honesty, the elimination of the people involved in it from the track has undoubtedly created some difficulties for organised crime, especially when it comes to re-investing and entering the legal market.
How will this affect the Camorra? What will the consequences be? How will it invest the primitive resources accumulated during the "predatory" phase? The answers are not easy and the topic is of great interest because the strategies applied by the Police Forces will depend upon it. A careful activity of study and intelligence has already produced some results with the embryonic formulation of operative hypotheses.
First of all, the enormous flow of money for public works has today, unforeseeably, finished.
The billions of liras allotted for the post-earthquake needs and all the financing for public utility works have mostly finished in the hands of Camorra organisations, because of the constant use of giving those public utility works as "concessions" (sub-contracts). This option was firstly conceived to overcome situations of objective needs and exceptional circumstances, but it has then become a regular practice.
From the legislative point of view, one of the main consequences of "tangentopoli" has been the condemnation of said practice with the elimination of such concessions.
If on the one hand the systematic application of sub-contracting has given rise to the belief that the assignment of "works" has often occurred under clan pressure; the main legislation on transparency after Tangentopoli provides for the mandatory publication of the bids for public contracts, it does not however allow any other selection (moral or technical) of the businesses and in fact it favours the businesses which are economically stronger and willing to lower their costs: it is very possible that the Camorra firms are favoured by the "competitive advantages" that they undoubtedly possess.
Moreover, the Camorra member has no need to obtain the public contract directly. It is sufficient to continue to be monopolistic in two building sectors: cement and earth movement. Any business that wins a public contract must use companies linked with the Camorra. Briefly, after the present status quo, there will again be demands in said sectors, and the Camorra "businesses" will probably be the only ones ready to fulfill them.
I worry about the tempting prospects in the Neapolitan area for the re-conversion of the industrial area of Bagnoli, for the airport of Lago Patria and for the interport in the Nola-Maddaloni area.
But the most dangerous and truthfully the most probable development is the involvement of Camorra in drug-trafficking, choosing this activity as its main source of financing. It is a disturbing perspective, not only for the social danger that it entails, but also for the possible evolution of the relations with other Mafia-type organisations.
As a matter of fact, although the Sicilian Mafia has accepted the participation of the Camorra in drug-trafficking - since it moved its interests to Naples - it will not allow the Camorra to take over the monopoly in the field.
To curb the predictable reactions of other organisations, the Camorra will necessarily structure itself in a different way, with deep organisational changes losing that character of horizontal structure and assuming a vertical structure, highly hierarchical.
This leaves room for ominous forecasts of conflicts between the Mafia and the Camorra with predictable consequences on the public safety.
The entry of the Camorra into the movable property market is the most probable development and deserves careful attention. The announced privatisation of public enterprises in particular with the offer on the market of a large quantity of movable property titles and with Camorra organisations having capital available, make such a possibility a feasible one, already verified with narcotraffickers during privatisations in Venezuela and Argentina.
The horizontal structure, in this case, makes the hypothesis of the Camorra attempting financial take-overs particularly worrying, even when there are rules preventing the concentration of capital in the hands of one person or group. The Camorra could in any case bypass such a rule fictionally fragmenting the different sums of money, maintaining instead a rigidly unique management.
Apparently, the Camorra is already establishing large joint ventures abroad with economic holdings not necessarily tied to criminal contexts.
In particular, beating every one, even the Sicilian Mafia, it is penetrating the Eastern countries like Russia (Bielorussia), Poland, and Czechoslovakia, where investigations carried out jointly with international bodies (the Trevi group, Interpol, and the Anti-Drug Service, with the partecipation of the Carabinieri) have indicated that it is trying to find spaces not only in the private sector of Services - hotels, restaurants, clothing stores - but even in the public sector of public contracts and building contractors exploiting the structures and the experience matured in these areas at home.
Some investigations in Italy have shown Camorra's interests extending with the usual methods of violence and intimidation in the following enticing and apparently legal sectors:
- the leisure-time market, like the big amusement parks, a sector which does not know crisis and which needs vast initial capital and unitary management;
- the tourist sector directly connected to the previous one which needs, besides capital, a large organising capacity and determination to avoid external interference.
The last hypothesis regards the legal commerce of tobacco in case of privatisation of the sector. It is useless to underline the methodologies that would be used to acquire the monopoly in a sector where thanks to smuggling the Camorra possesses specific know how and expertise.
The Calabrian society
Calabria developed much later than other Italian regions due to its geographical and political peculiarity in respect to the central power and because of the slow process of emancipation of the population from century of degradation.
The towns are spread out in the Region's territory and have a rural and tribal social connotation, with very few contacts amongst them, made even more difficult by the absence of a rational transport network and for the tendency of the population to live in isolation.
The above mentioned context has influenced the structural and functional evolution of Calabrian crime. In fact for a long time it has experimented the development of delinquent autonomous organisations of family-type all over the territory, substantially working as intermediaries between the landowners and the villages.
The 'Ndrangheta therefore appears as a criminal organisation deeply rooted in the Calabrian social fabric and evolving from it. It aims at exerting total control over the territory. Even though the criminal groups ('ndrinas) are founded on the family, this favours silence and internal cohesion and the autonomy in the respective areas of influence, the 'Ndrangheta has today assumed a "federative and vertical" type of structural model, more appropriate tp the emerging criminal activities which entail a wider scope of activity.
Recently, the 'Ndrangheta has greatly amplified its presence on the national territory, creating an operational network which is extremely efficient for its division into compartments and its secrecy. It reproduces in Italy and abroad the ordinative structures present for decades in the Calabria Region.
The interests pursued remain extortions, infiltration in public contracts, through the so called "Mafia-participated-businesses", and the trafficking of arms and drugs.
In the last two years the repressive activity has yield exceptionally important results, which brought about a wider understanding of the criminal phenomenon, also thanks to the collaboration of top level "affiliates" .
The areas of interest of the single 'Ndrinas are territorially determined; they are different in relation to the peculiar geographic, infra-regional connotations. Their inter-connections have progressively been structured in a new vertical way.
In fact, the existence of a sort of "provincial commission" seems significant. This was created in order to put a halt to the escalation of crimes committed in the provinces, and to the conflicts among the different 'Ndrinas. The aim was to provide a guarantee to carry on with the profitable dealings in the trafficking of drugs and in the management of public contracts to which the 'Ndrangheta has recently turned to abandoning the traditional activitiy of kidnapping.
Amongst other things, the "supremacy" of the Reggio Calabria ‘Ndrangheta has emerged. Its provincial commission represents the back bone of the new regional commission (borrowed form the Sicilian organisation, whose influence in Calabria has always been strong).
The most influential leaders of the 'Ndrangheta are in the Region's main city. They are tied to other national Mafia organisations, and they are a reference point for the majority of the "'Ndranghetisti".
Every generational change, or power conflict starts a blood-bath in Reggio Calabria, and the results are then felt all over the region.
An example is the Mafia war of the end of the '80s to gain absolute control over the territory and the economic activities between the "IMERTI-CONDELLO-SERRAINO" on the one side, and the "DE STEFANO-TEGANO-LATELLA-LIBRI" on the other.
On the Ionic coast of the province the main criminal groups are located in San Luca, Platě, and Natile di Careri and are historically implicated in kidnappings, while the main families are the "COMMISSO" and the "COSTA" of Siderno, the "IAMONTE" of Melito Porto Salvo, the "URSINO-MAGRI", and the "AQUINO-MAZZAFERRO" of Gioiosa-Jonica and Marina di Gioiosa Jonica where effective police investigations have been carried out.
On the Tyrrhenian coast police activities have enabled us to single out and repress dangerous associations like the "MAMMOLITI-RUGOLO" of Oppido Mamertina, the "GIOFRÉ-SANTAITI", and finally the extremely dangerous "PIROMALLI-MOLE" one.
Even if we are still a long way from defeating the leading structures of the criminal organisations, we cannot disregard the extremely important results already achieved that have momentarily modified the geography of the 'Ndrangheta in the province of Reggio Calabria, and its projections towards Lombardy and Piedmont.
The provinces of Catanzaro and Cosenza, when compared to Reggio Calabria, are often indicated as the parts of Calabria where the phenomenon is less rooted, it has however been ascertained that the 'Ndrangheta is present there and manifests itself with all its peculiar characteristics (associative ties, intimidations, and its law of silence) and feeds upon a situation of economic, social and cultural underdevelopment, widespread throughout the region.
The reality emerging from the repressive activites could be thus summarised :
- the Calabrian clans have "carefully sub-divided the territory" to be controlled;
- the aforesaid organisations have created in other regions of Italy (Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria, Trentino Alto Adige, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Marche, and Umbria) "operative bases/detachments", thus polluting more developed regions and transferring within them the Mafia system;
- recent operations have demonstrated that drug trafficking in the national territory is controlled by the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, which receives supplies directly from South America and the Middle East;
- tight relations between the 'Ndrangheta and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra have furthermore been reconfirmed (the murder of Judge SCOPELLITI);
- the contributions by "collaborators" have opened a gap in the Calabrian organisation and at the same time, they have made it possible for us to discover the most hidden aspects of the phenomenon, presenting the 'Ndrangheta as a real criminal multinational, not only committing ordinary crimes, but aiming directly or indirectly at gaining control over economic activities;
- behind the great choices which have influenced the Calabrian economy, we can see the ever-present role of the 'Ndrangheta which, with this action leaves little space for private activity. In fact, the presence of the 'Ndrinas in the public contract bidding for the construction of the Centrale Enel (electrical plant) of Gioia Tauro clearly demonstrated the remarkable quality leap accomplished by local criminality;
- Calabrian groups have replaced the very risky kidnapping activity with the more profitable activities of financial and institutional infiltration, and narco-trafficking;
- the Calabrian groups ahve achieved a leading role in the drug-market, through the formation of cartels. A recent investigation conducted by the R.O.S. in Liguria, Piedmont, and Lombardy, led to the seizure of the largest batch of drugs ever discovered in Europe: 5,400 kg of cocaine.
A new extremely interesting development is the alleged creation of a sort of regional commission at the top of Calabrian organised crime. This would be like an extension of the provincial commission gathering toghether leading figures also from Cosenza and Catanzaro with the rank of "CAPO SOCIETŔ-CRIMINALE" (Head of Criminal Society) and with the power over seven "local" bodies ('Ndrinas detached in different areas).
This indicates that in place of individual initiatives mostly left to the charisma or the initiative of the single "bosses", today there is a tendency to planning and to a more rigid hierarchy, more functional than structural (the ‘ Ndrina's territorial autonomy is in fact preserved) aimed at:
- regulating the international trafficking of drugs;
- limiting the risks or the conflicts of interests and therefore the feuds;
- adopting the necessary solutions to settle important matters or dealings;
- authorising the opening or the acknowledgement of new "sites";
- removing or electing the "ZIANU", that is the formal "capo" of the Commission who can only come from Reggio Calabria.
THE SACRA CORONA UNITA
Organised crime in Puglia, differently from other criminal realities of the South of Italy, was born fairly recently (1979 - 1980), at a time when in the Puglia prisons members of the Camorra and the 'Ndrangheta were detained.
This means that Puglia does not have a criminal tradition of its own but has imported it from Calabria and Campania.
The particularly favourable geographic position for the management of illegal trafficking with the Balkan areas and the vicinity to the regions with a big criminal vocation have brought about the consolidation of organised criminal formations which, growing in the shadow of Cutolo (1) and of the 'Ndrinas of the DE STEFANO and BELLOCO families, have gained more autonomy producing in 1983 the so called Sacra Corona Unita (2).
The internal difficulties of the S.C.U. aided the birth of antagonistic criminal groups such as:
- the REMO (3) LECCE LIBERA, formed by some leading criminal figures from Lecce, who claim to be independent from any criminal group other than the 'Ndrangheta;
- the NUOVA FAMIGLIA SALENTINA formed in 1986 by DE MATTEIS Pantaleo, from Lecce and stemming from the FAMIGLIA SALENTINA LIBERA born in the early '80s as a autonomous criminal movement in the Salento area with no links with extra-regional Mafia expressions;
- the so-called ROSA DEI VENTI formed in 1990 by DE TOMMASI in the Lecce prison, following an internal division in the S.C.U..
At present the situation appears different after intensive contrasting activities promoted by the police forces and because of the organisations' internal dynamics. They have in fact been weakened by bloody feuds and divisions and have lost their traditional points of reference, also through the phenomenon of "collaboration with the judicial authorities". They now appear fragmented into many indistinctive criminal realities, often mixed with the local micro-criminality.
Giuseppe Rogoli's attempt to give the criminal organisation a vertical rigid organisation and to establish a leading group with the formation of a regional "Puglia commission" never took off and was then discarded.
In said context, an increase in crimes is probable in view also of the re-assessment of the precarious situation existing as a consequence of the lengthy prison terms some very important members of the leading "families" have to serve, and also as a consequence of the weakening of some of the most dangerous organisations whose leading members, no longer able to guarantee any order among the local criminal groups, have decided to cooperate with the judicial authorities. The second phase of a joint investigative activity was recently concluded in Bari and in Rome on the infiltrations by organised crime in private clinics in Bari owned by the well-known businessman Francesco CAVALLARI.
A thick network of collusions and concessions which for a long time had favoured the proliferation and social penetration by organised crime with a do ut des relationship between business people, politicians and criminals has been severed. This will have some consequences on the chances of survival of some local criminal groups.
The criminal groups in Puglia, even if fragmented on the territory and deprived of structural connections, appear now to have directed their criminal activities towards the trafficking of drugs, of arms and of foreign cigarettes. They are consolidating their relations with Montenegro and with the former Yugoslavia, this is particularly easy in view of:
- the geographic positioning, which allows easy access, and the limited border controls;
- the persistent political-institutional situation in those countries made worse by the war. Their difficult economic conditions represent an attraction even for mid-level criminal organisations.
Besides, since the '70s criminals from Puglia, first on behalf of the Mafia, then of the 'Ndrangheta and the Camorra and later autonomously, have smuggled foreign tobaccoes through well tested Balkans-Puglia routes.
For this activity they rely on a fleet of motorboats, serviced in the former Yugoslavia and in Montenegro, more precisely in Cattaro, Zelininka and Bar, which are ready to be used for drug and arms trafficking, and also for the transport of clandestine immigrants from Albania, China, and the former-Yugoslavia. This is a sector organised crime from Puglia is starting to exploit.
In fact, clandestine immigration of Albanians towards Italy has undergone a radical change it has gone from a mass-phenomenon to a strategically more sophisticated one.
The non-European citizens to leave their country illegally often turn to organisations specialised in this field, among them the Chinese Triads. Thus solid ties are being established between foreign criminal structures and homologous Italian ones, like those operating in the Brindisi and the Salento areas.
The phenomenon is worrying because it is reaching such levels as to raise social alarm to the extent of requiring the deployment of the Army along the coasts concerned. Also of concern are the connections at international level the criminal associations from Puglia can establish, with significant consequences on their organisational and operative capacity.