Italy has been among the European countries hit the hardest from Coronavirus. As the country remains on lockdown with over 160,000 cases and 16,000 deaths related to COVID-19, it seems that supplies are running low for certain families. According to The Guardian, the Mafia has intervened during these times, delivering essential goods to families in need.
Known members of the Mafia across Italy have been seen in videos bringing goods to families in some of the most impoverished regions of the country including Campania, Calabria, Sicily, and Puglia. Though it’s a sweet gesture at face value, anti-mafia investigator Nicola Gratteria said these quick deliveries can be used for leverage among vulnerable locals.
"For over a month, shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs have been closed," Nicola Gratteri said. "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."
Italian official Luciana Lamorgese stated that the Mafia might use this to take advantage of the poor to "recruit people to its organization." University of Oxford professor of criminology Federico Varese said that these "are not gifts" but favors that should be paid back.
"Mafia bosses consider their cities as their own fiefdom," Gratteri continued. "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."