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.