Monday, October 22, 2007

 

Only in Italy? No, not very likely.

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ORGANIZED CRIME TAKES LEAD IN ITALY'S ECONOMY
New York Times - October 23, 2007
By PETER KIEFER

ROME, Oct. 22 — Organized crime represents the biggest segment of the Italian economy, accounting for more than $127 billion in receipts, according to a report issued Monday.

The new figure reflects a trend that has been under way for a few years, the annual report says. The figure last year was $106 billion, making it not quite the biggest segment of the economy.

The report also said the line between legitimate business and criminal activity was becoming harder to discern.

The annual report was released by the Confesercenti, an association of small businesses. It says that through various activities — extortion, usury, contraband, robberies, gambling and Internet piracy — organized crime accounts for 7 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product.

“From the weaving factories, to tourism to business and personal services, from farming to public contracts to real estate and finance, the criminal presence is consolidated in every economic activity,” the 86-page report said.

The report also points to a disturbing trend of collusion in which big businesses participate, especially in public works.

“The businessmen prefer to make a pact with the Mafia rather than denounce the blackmail,” the report said.

The report comes on the heels of a visit to Naples by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, when he condemned “deplorable” mob violence that he said had insinuated itself into everyday life.

Recent news reports have described threats to journalists in Sicily and the Campania region from organized-crime families.

Usury represents the most lucrative activity by organized crime, with syndicates taking in $43 billion while racketeering brings in $14 billion, the report estimated. Illegal construction nets about $19 billion.

The businesses most afflicted by organized crime are in the south — in Sicily, Campania, Calabria and Puglia, the report found.

The report says 80 percent of the businesses in the Sicilian cities of Catania and Palermo regularly pay protection money, known as “pizzo.”

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An excerpt from: THE SCOPE AND IMPACT OF ORGANIZED CRIME IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
prepared by Criminal Analysis Section, RCMP "E" Division, June 2005

... Organized crime now plays a significantly greater role in the economy of this province than it did one generation ago. It includes the activities of well-known and lesser-known groups, white collar criminal activity, gang activity, and both domestic and foreign actors. These groups operate within a series of illicit marketplaces which are often facilitated by the same innate strategic or comparative advantages offered by British Columbia in the legitimate economy – proximity to the United States, a gateway role between North America and Asia, and a growing economy with a skilled and diverse population. Recent years have seen significant innovation by organized crime , particularly within the drug economy. The result is a vibrant and rapidly expanding underground economy, which, through its corrosive socio-economic effects and violent attempts at self-regulation, is of grave concern in both the tactical and strategic senses. This concern is felt in the immediate area of drug crime and violence – homicides, assaults and kidnappings – associated to organized crime and the drug trade, in the range of secondary activities associated to organized crime, and in the indirect, damaging effects of a criminal economy which by conservative estimate equates to at least 4% of provincial GDP ...


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These two reports suggest that all Organized Criminals are thugs. I don't think so. With the money and opportunities at their disposal, today's big crooks are more likely the graduates of good schools, functioning among the respected professions or in big business, doing the very big international deals. RCMP Sgt John Ward warned in 2003 that "organized crime has crept into every level of society in the past two years." It's ironic that jet-setting crooks can so easily pick up a get-out-of-jail-free card, as our social structure naturally tends to shower respect on well-dressed, well-spoken people living in the very big houses, dealing the very big deals. But international commercial crime, in my opinion, is where Organized Crime is heading ... with administrations and legislation to smooth their way ... and we may not know it until it's too late. For example, here's one very small sad clue that Organized Crime is expanding its business opportunities right under our noses:


WORKING FOR A FIX

Frances Bula
The Vancouver Sun - September 24, 2007

VANCOUVER. Albert Perrin's day used to start at 6 a.m., with the first of his three or four daily heroin fixes. By 7 a.m., he would be at his carpentry job.

The minute his lunch break came, he would have another fix. Sometimes his dealer would deliver, but on bad days, Perrin would leave work to go to his dealer and not come back.

He would do another fix after work and then maybe again, sometime before bed. He'd tried more than once to clean himself up. In the mid-1990s, he went through a rehab program run by B.C.'s construction unions in New Westminster. A pioneer program started in 1981, there are only two like it in North America ...

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