Cash-Rich Italian Mafia Grows in Recession
Mobsters prey on desperate consumers looking for cash, credit
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2009 4:57 PM CDT
Giuseppe Nirti is escorted by Italian police after his arrest in Bianco, on the outskirts of Reggio Calabria, southern Italy, Friday, May 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)
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(Newser) – In Italy, one man’s recession is a mobster’s paradise, the AP reports. Organized crime syndicates are taking full advantage of the economic slowdown, gobbling up businesses and flaunting an asset in short supply these days: liquidity. Money is no object to the syndicates, who scored $167 billion in profits last year through extortion rackets, drug trafficking, and sales of designer knock-offs.

Italy has made inroads against the Mafia, but the syndicates keep growing, using funds from shady dealings in the south to build posh homes and finance legitimate businesses in the north—some of which “you'll find in tourist guide books,” said one prosecutor. Meanwhile, recession blues are ensuring that loan sharks will continue making desperate entrepreneurs an offer they can’t refuse.