Mafia Linked to Italian Race Riots
Squalid conditions, poor pay tied to mobbed-up contractors
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jan 11, 2010 3:54 AM CST
An Italian carabiniere patrols in front of a barricade in Rosarno, southern Italy, over the weekend following clashes between migrants and police.   (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)
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(Newser) – The Mafia is suspected of helping to spark Italy's worst race riots in years. More than 1,000 African workers in southern Italy were shipped to detention centers following weekend clashes sparked after a legal immigrant was wounded in a mystery pellet attack. Immigrants blamed racism for the shooting, and rampaged in the streets, smashing shop windows, hurling rocks at residents and burning cars. Some 50 people were injured.

African workers' low pay, squalid living conditions, and broken pay arrangements often linked to labor contractors with strong ties to organized crime are blamed for much of the unrest among Italy's teeming immigrant population, say human rights organizations. Prosecutors are also investigating the possibility that the Calabrian Mafia may have instigated the riots to cause trouble for authorities attempting to crack down on organized crime.