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Mafia distributes food to support residents in Italy

Members of the Mafia group have been donating cash to families in Italy who have no cash anymore.

As Italy struggles through the devastating effects that the coronavirus pandemic has had both its residents and its economy. In fact, members of the mafia have been distributing free foods to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash.

Italy is one of the European countries to be hit hardest by the virus, with over 160,000 confirmed cases and more than 16,000 deaths.

The Guardian reports that videos of known Mafia gang members are delivering food and other essential goods over the past few weeks. They reportedly brought the goods to some of the poorest regions across the country, specifically Campania, Calabria, Sicily, and Puglia.

“For over a month, shops, cafés, restaurants, and pubs have been closed,” anti-mafia investigator Nicola Gratteri explained. “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.”

The Italian minister of the interior Luciana Lamorgese has indicated that the Mafia could “take advantage of the rising poverty” in the country. It is suspected the deliveries are being made to gain local support and to “recruit people to its organization.”

“Mafias are not just criminal organizations,’’ Federico Varese, Professor of Criminology at the University of Oxford, said. “They are organizations that aspire to govern territories and markets. Commentators often focus on the financial aspect of mafias but they tend to forget that their strength comes from having a local base from which to operate.”

“These handouts by the mafias are not gifts. The mafia does not do anything out of its kind heart. They are favors that everyone will have to pay back in some form or another, by aiding and abetting a fugitive, holding a gun, dealing drugs and the like.” Varese said.

“Mafia bosses consider their cities as their own fiefdom,” Gratteri added. “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.”