Brussels

Europol says Italian mafia threaten elections in EU

Danger 'without equal' says report

Europol says Italian mafia threaten elections in EU

Brussels, June 25 - Italian organised crime groups present a danger ''without equal'' for free elections in the European Union (EU), the EU law enforcement agency Europol has said in a report. Italian mafia groups manage to ''manipulate elections'' and ''place their own men'', even in administrations that are far from territories they control, said the report entitled Threat Assessment, The Italian Mafia. The European economic crisis has strengthened the reach of Italian mafia groups, according to the report, which said sophisticated money-laundering schemes not only seek to justify immense, illicit wealth but also undermine free markets by competing under-cost and creating quasi-monopolies in certain sectors. Mafia groups increasingly target new areas of the legal economy, including green energy - such as wind farms - and the Internet, the report. Italian mafia groups' main criminal activities outside of Italy, however, are drug-trafficking, money-laundering, corruption and counterfeit goods. The 18-page document also traced the salient characteristics of the Sicilys Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian-based 'Ndrangheta, Campania's Camorra and Puglian criminal groups, highlighting their similarities. differences and areas of operation. The Cosa Nostra is described as ''the oldest, most traditional and most widespread manifestation of the Sicilian Mafia'' with tentacles reaching into the economies of South Africa, Canada, USA, Venezuela and Spain. The 'Ndrangheta is identified as one of the ''most threatening'' organized crime groups on a global level, due to its ''enormous financial might'' and ''immense corruptive power,'' with a presence in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, US, Colombia and Australia. The Camorra is noted for its violence and its presence outside Italy in Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Puglian organized crime groups are often wrongly identified as the Sacra Corona Unita (SCU), the report says. In truth, Puglia has two main mafia groups, the SCU and the Societa' Foggiana, as well as a number of smaller groups that display bandit-like behavior. Puglian crime groups are less international than others, but still have a presence in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Albania, according to Europol.

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