This is a video about the Mafia.
From Italian news agency ANSA:
Animal rackets net 3 bln euros
Illegal horse racing and exotic species trafficking continue
Rome, January 2 – The illegal exploitation of domestic animals, livestock, and wildlife continues to provide organized crime in Italy with huge sums of money each year, according to the latest report by animal rights association, LAV.
The group’s annual ‘Zoomafia’ report, which analyses illegal money-spinners involving animals, found that the business generated around three billion euros in 2007.
Illegal horse racing, which takes place on racecourses after hours or on improvised tracks through city streets, remained the most profitable enterprise, pulling in around one billion euros, according to the report. The clandestine sport attracts hundreds of gamblers across southern Italy.
Stolen horses are often used and many are fed powdered Viagra or other stimulants to improve their performance.
In 2007 police blocked eight illegal races, arrested 30 people and reported more than 230, LAV said.
They also confiscated over 100 horses, a racecourse and riding stables as well as over 1,000 doses of forbidden performance-enhancing substances.
The rigging of legal races also continues to be a serious problem, with Mafia-style gangs switching horses, bribing jockeys, disguising thoroughbreds as mixed breeds, and injecting animals with amphetamines.
Even if tricks such as doping are uncovered afterwards, payouts on bets have already been made and they are usually unretrievable. Legal betting businesses believe they lose millions of euros as a result.
The report highlighted puppy trafficking from Eastern Europe as another major money-spinner.
Around 500,000 puppies are imported illegally into Italy each year after being bought in Eastern Europe for around 60 euros each.
Pedigree puppies can fetch up to 20 times as much on the Italian market, where traders fake documentation claiming the dogs were born in Italy, LAV said.
Pets are smuggled over the border in cramped conditions in the backs of lorries, and one in four puppies does not survive the trip.
Trafficking of exotic animal species such as parrots and tortoises as well as ivory, caviar and Chinese medicine containing ingredients from protected species is meanwhile worth around 500 million euros annually, LAV said.
The report highlighted a new trend of illegal trading over the Internet, where species are posted directly to buyers’ homes.
Colourful coral samples measuring 10 cm in diameter can fetch between 300 and 400 euros via Internet sales.
Other clandestine enterprises included the theft of livestock, falsification of health certificates and the illegal meat trade, according to the report.
Italy: Horse racing suspended at Palermo racetrack over mafia links. Police uncover evidence that Cosa Nostra bosses were rigging races at Ippodromo La Favorita in Sicilian city: here.
Wildlife imports into the United States are fragmented and insufficiently coordinated, failing to accurately list more than four in five species entering the country: here.
Mafia business ‘equal’ to 9% of GDP
Italians earning less but number of millionaires grows
(ANSA) – Rome, January 30 – Italy’s four main mafias generated business equivalent to about 9% of GDP in 2008, a top Italian think tank said Friday. Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Naples, ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria and Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia turned over some 130 billion euros last year, Eurispes said. Drugs were still the mafias’ mainstay, at 59 billion euros, followed by illegal waste trafficking and other environmental crime at 16 billion. This ‘ecomafia’ activity has recently outstripped other more traditional sources of income, Eurispes said.
But it still got 12.6 billion euros from loansharking in 2008, nine billion from protection rackets and 5.8 billion from arms trafficking and smuggling. Mafia wealth is reflected in total police asset seizures of 5.2 billion euros in 2008: 2.9 billion from the Camorra, 1.4 billion from Cosa Nostra and 231 million from ‘Ndrangheta. The Eurispes report confirmed a recent interior ministry estimate that ‘Ndrangheta alone generates some 45 billion euros, or 3% of GDP, from its stranglehold on the European cocaine trade. ITALIANS EARNING LESS BUT THE NUMBER OF MILLIONAIRES GROWS.
Although Italians earn less than other Europeans and the majority of families have trouble making it to the end of the month, the number of millionaires continues to grow, Eurispes said elsewhere in tis study.
Based on data for 2006, Eurispes found that Italians not only make less than other Europeans but they are failing to keep up with the growing cost of living. Eurispes also pointed out that while in the decade from 1997 to 2007 the number of the employed rose by almost three million people, there was no similar increase in earnings, which is usually the case when employment grows. The report found that 53.4% of Italians have trouble balancing their family budgets with only 33.4% able to put away some form of savings while 66.1% were unable to stretch their budgets to the end of the month. At the same time, Eurispes said, the number of Italian families with a capital of over a million euros in 2006, 359,000, is expected to almost double by 2010 to some 712,000, an increase of 98%.
Calabria pol murder four get life
Deputy head of regional assembly gunned down in 2005
(ANSA) – Locri, February 2 – Four men received life sentences Monday for the 2005 murder of a top political official in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
Alessandro and Giuseppe Marciano’ were convicted of ordering the killing of centre-left politician Francesco Fortugno, 54, deputy chief of the Calabrian regional assembly.
Salvatore Ritorto was found guilty of shooting dead Fortugno on October 16, 2005.
The fourth man, Domenico Audino, was to have driven Ritorto to the hit but backed out at the last minute.
The four were acquitted of mafia conspiracy.
The murder of Fortugno sent shock waves through the Italian political world and was seen as a challenge to the state by the Calabrian Mafia, ‘Ndrangheta.
Fortugno was a doctor in the central Calabrian town of Locri, one of ‘Ndrangheta’s power bases. ‘Ndrangheta has recently grown more powerful than its Sicilian sister Cosa Nostra, police say.
It hit international headlines in August 2007 when a vendetta claimed the lives of six men in the German city of Duisburg.
Fortugno’s murder and the Duisburg massacre have led to an intensification of police efforts against ‘Ndrangheta and a campaign to get citizens to come forward against the Mob.
Reacting to Monday’s verdict, a centre-right MP and member of the Italian parliament’s anti-mafia commission, Giuseppe Marinello, remembered Fortugno as ”a politician fighting for law and order in a place where the links between organised crime and corruption are clear”.
The former head of the commission, Giuseppe Lumia of Fortugno’s Democratic Party, said the verdict could ”boost the courage” of local society.
”I hope the system of collusion built by ‘Ndrangheta can be unmasked,” he added.
Calabria Governor Ignazio Loiero said the verdict was ”important for the entire Calabrian community which may draw from this sentence greater strength to speak out”.
According to investigators, Fortugno was murdered so that a Christian Democrat member of the regional assembly could take his place.
But the Christian Democrat was found to be unaware of ‘Ndrangheta’s support and was not prosecuted.
Investigators say the killing took place against the background of a web of shady relations through which ‘Ndrangheta was able to influence contracts and appointments in the regional health services.
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