venerdì 27 giugno 2014

Discussing about organized crime in South Africa and the Mafia System

The Global Initiative against organized crime in which I am honored to take part as expert-member, issued very recently a report titled: 
Organized Crime in Southern Africa. Part of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime series on Governance, Development and State Fragility.
 The core of it is about the Unholy alliances between Organized Crime, Government and Economic emerged analyzing Organized Crime situation in South Africa. 
I am very concerned and focused on this matter because of my studies and research on Mafia Model that emerged studying the Italian Sicilian mafia, the Camorra and the ’ndrangheta revealing the ability –along the time passing- to evolve in something more structured and resilient: the MAFIA SYSTEM.
The very first question for me was: how it is possible that this forms of criminality are actives for so long time? Starting from it I developed a theory based on the evidence on converging and simultaneous interest of the three actors: Organized Crime, Economy and Politic. About the results of my studies I am writing a book that starting from the origin of these mafias and the analyzing the way evolved in Italy in order to extract a model that can be compared with the similar experience all around the world. This is in my point of view a very interesting way of approaching this matter because it is possible to use the same key experience to avoid, or at least curb, the emergence of similar resilient mafias in other countries.
And this is why, apart from the intrinsic value, I have found very important the work done by the Global Initiative about the organized crime situation in Africa. It is clear for me that there are a lots of similarity between the emergence, in particular about the Italian Sicilian mafia and the ‘ndrangheta experience, with the ongoing evolution on many criminal actors in South Africa. Of course this comparison is not at all a mere academic exercise with no practical  value, on the contrary, it is aimed to suggest the possible tools to curb the criminal escalation defining the best practices to this goal. 
Starting from the fact that I agree that “…focus excessively on using seizure data to capture the extent and nature of criminal flows have overlooked the ways in which organized crime impacts on citizens and the state, which is essential in an African context…” is a misleading way to start and focus on the OC potential development in a specific area; what is more reliable is to us and index developed on the base of other similar experience tailored for the context having in mind the differences. This step help us to focus on the worst areas affected by OC and evaluate at the same time the level of danger these are posing to civil society. In South Africa as The GlobaI Initiative report shows Protection Economies have developed in a range of contexts and this is the sign that the Mafia System is still acting and provoking damages that will affect these territories for decades ahead. It is a vicious circle in which every single actor act protecting his interest and doing so helping the others to survive and gain power. It was so in Italy for example with the mafiosi investing their money in the Vatican bank helped by some Italian politician, or systematically, and this is still the case, direct votes for election at the Italian parliament or local administrative entities. In terms of money laundering, for example white collar crime is possible if the Mafia System is protected at local level by local politician which benefit from both criminal and facilitators. At the base of this modus operandi  we find the corruption which affect all the levels of responsibilities in the bureaucratic machine. But if the laws is not good enough to prevent and tackle this  illegal behavior who is in charge for modify it? Who else if not Politician of course. The Mafia System is nowadays a very serious problem not only for South Africa but for many others countries all around the word such as Italy.
Suggesting to read the Global initiative report -I would say- it is encouraging to see that a good pattern has been started to a better comprehension of the organized crime peculiarity.

martedì 24 giugno 2014

Is it time to the mafia’s Apocalypse?

This is name that the Italian authorities gave to the latest operation to tackle the new mafia groups operating in Palermo.
Among the Italian words best known in the world, mafia is without no doubt the most note and at the same time infamous. Among Italy’s best known achievements, being the country of origin of the mafias is certainly the most inglorious. But giving that it is at the same time true that Italy has the primacy in literary and scientific production on mafias at large.
Yesterday in Palermo 91 mafia bosses have been arrested and charged with mafia-type-association provided by Article 416/bis of the Italian Criminal Code which at the paragraph 3 of the provision defines the mafia method and the goals of the mafia in this way: “…an association is of mafia-type when its members exploit the potential for intimidation which their membership gives them, and the consequent subjection and omertà to commit offences, or to assume, directly or indirectly, the management or control of financial activities, concessions, permissions, enterprises and public services, or for the purpose of deriving profit or wrongful advantages for themselves or others, or to hamper or to prevent during public elections the free exercise of the right to vote or to obtain votes for themselves…”.
This new important police operation shows one more time how the mafia families in Palermo are striving to overcome the bad situation they are facing since the collapse of the old status quo that ended with the debacle of the Corleonesi in the Nineties. Nowadays the situation is very fluid and the organization chart continuously evolving. Apart from this clear sign of weakness, it is noticeable that without the protection of a - circle of contacts –, which I named in my ongoing studies: “The Mafia System”, in the politician and economic word “La Mafia” can be easily defeated with the common investigative tools at disposal.
In my point of view, this is important to underline because it is the consciousness of this evidence that, at the same time, make it clear the responsibilities of all actors called for tackle the organized crime in Italy. Having concealed this perverse relation between mafia-politician-entrepreneurs, has make the mafia very resilient.
The latest operation in Palermo has hit two historical families operating on the areas of Palermo “mandamenti” of Resuttana e San Lorenzo. Among the convicted there is the brother of the Salvatore RIINA’s driver
Salvatore Biondino, Girolamo, who had recently been released from prison and returned to command the clan. Trying not to end up back in jail, he acted as a normal "retired", he walked on the bus and had not been seen around with other men of honor.
In a world where the uomini d’onore still nowadays greet each other with a kiss on the lips, is it possible to listen a men of honor as Gregorio Palazzotto say, talking with an associate: "…we are a hundred years that are mafiosi, the uncle of my father, Paolo Palazzotto, killed the first policeman in Palermo: Joe Petrosino, on behalf of capo mafia don Vito Cascio Ferro…" 
This is la Cosa Nostra Siciliana in 2014; to be continued.

lunedì 23 giugno 2014

The very first step to fight the mafia organized crime mafia network

During this period,  I am focused on writing my next book which has its core on the mafia-model in terms of the historical and criminological evolution to make it clear that it is a serious problem, but the more dangerous one - which I consider the Mafia-System-Model – based on the convergence of interest of different actors: organized crime association, economic and political criminal lobbies.

Obviously, the question opens the door to the next level of discussion that is based on the question of why these criminal phenomena, some in particular, are so long-lived and rooted in some cultures and areas.
In dealing with this research both diachronic and synchronous, and in order to give it a value of actuality, there are so many elements that are gradually emerging; today I want to address the issue of counterfeit goods, piracy and infringement of copyright.
One of the first things to consider, and that is the first step for the vast majority of criminal networks, is their ability to smuggling goods. Circumventing the laws of a state, which regulates the movement of goods according to the prerogative for the benefit of the community - through the imposition of excise and taxation - crime provides products to a market created by all of us, both original and counterfeit obvious in order to derive an economic benefit.
It is defined a crime - without victims - for obvious logical reason, that the beneficiary and recipient of illicit services is the one who actually generates the entire supply chain ridge for these products tends to satisfy its own needs. Among these needs, for the most part of a questionable hedonistic nature, are drugs, tobacco products, since no very long time so far the counterfeit goods.
The office of the O. N.U. for the fight against drugs and organized crime in general UNODC that has, among others, the task of monitoring global criminal acts in their expression also transnational, has recently published a summary report, but certainly effective, on the subject of illegal market in counterfeit goods:

When, often and in various forums, I am asked the question about the effectiveness of contrast tools, almost always referring to a purely investigative activity, or otherwise pertaining to the criminal law, I argue that - in my opinion – the one that has a concrete and immediate effectiveness is the practical information and awareness aimed at encouraging reflection on how and why, and it is our case, some trivial behaviors such as the purchase of any item counterfeit has an important impact in positive trade balance of the mafia networks.
The report, which I am talking about, provides economic data of this activity, whose estimates rounding by default in $ 250 billion, the volume of business, criminal organizations involved in thousands and millions individuals around the world, exploited for the production of these items. The pirate compact discs, t-shirt or signed bags, feed the gangs that subsequently make a profit this capital investing them in other criminal activities, generating a downward spiral that we feed with our contribution often involuntary.
If we become aware of this short and perverse circuit we would certainly fought our little war against crime. Of course it will also be unexciting, but certainly incredibly effective.

lunedì 16 giugno 2014

Il primo mezzo di contrasto alle mafie globali

In questo periodo sono alle prese con la scrittura del mio prossimo libro che ha per tema le mafie e il loro modello sotto il profilo evolutivo storico e quello criminologico al fine di rendere evidente come esse rappresentino - di per sé stesse -, e quindi se considerate nel loro aspetto di potenzialità criminale un problema, in effetti, e senza tema di smentita, di semplice soluzione. Ovviamente, la questione apre le porte ad un livello successivo di discussione che si basa sull’ovvia domanda del perché allora questi fenomeni criminali, specialmente alcuni, siano così longevi e radicati in alcune culture.
Nell’affrontare questo lavoro di studio, volutamente diacronico e sincronico al fine di dare ad esso un valore anche di fruibile attualità tanti sono gli elementi che man mano emergono; tra questi oggi voglio affrontare il tema delle merci contraffatte, della pirateria e della violazione del diritto d’autore. 

Uno dei primi elementi da considerare e che si pone a fondamento dell’attività della stragrande maggioranza delle organizzazioni criminali di livello è la loro capacità d’inserimento nel mercato del contrabbando. Aggirando le leggi di uno stato che regola la circolazione delle merci in funzione alla prerogativa di trarne profitto a vantaggio della comunità attraverso l’imposizione di accise e imposte, la criminalità fornisce merci, sia originali che contraffatte al fine ovvio di trarne un beneficio economico grazie alla domanda che proviene dal destinatario finale ovvero il consumatore, quindi - noi stessi-. Si tratta dei reati detti -senza vittima- poichè per ovvia ragione logica il destinatario dei servizi illeciti è colui il quale in effetti genera l’intera filiera crinale per il soddisfacimento di un proprio bisogno. Tra questi bisogni, per la maggior parte di una discutibile natura edonistica, primeggiano per effetti negativi le sostanze stupefacenti, i tabacchi lavorati e da un decennio con prorompente forza di numeri le merci contraffate.
L’ufficio dell’O.N.U. per la lotta alle droghe e alla criminalità organizzata in genere che ha, tra gli altri, il compito nel monitoraggio mondiale dei fatti criminali nella loro espressione anche transnazionale, ha di recente pubblicato un resoconto, sommario, ma senz’altro efficace sul tema delle mercato illegale di merci contraffatte: 
Quando, spesso mi si pone la domanda circa l’efficacia dei mezzi di contrasto, riferendosi quasi sempre ad attività prettamente investigative o comunque afferenti la legislazione penale mi rendo conto, e cerco di discutere di quanto - a mio parere senz’altro in misura maggiore - sono efficaci pratiche di informazione e sensibilizzazione finalizzate a far riflettere su come, ed è il nostro caso attuale, alcuni comportamenti banali come l’acquisti di qualsiasi oggetto contraffatto incidano pesantemente e in positivo sulla bilancia commerciale delle mafie. Il report di cui ho segnalato la pubblicazione fornisce i dati economici di quest’attività, le cui stime, ricordo sono sempre fisiologicamente - per difetto -: 250 miliardi di dollari, migliaia di organizzazioni criminali coinvolte, milioni di persone sfruttate per la produzione di questi oggetti e interessi anche del terrorismo internazionale di varia estrazione. Il compact disc pirata, la t-shirt o la borsa “firmata” alimentano le mafie che successivamente mettono a profitto questi capitali investendoli in altre attività criminali generando una spirale perversa che si autoalimenta grazie anche a noi. 

Se riuscissimo a prendere coscienza di questo fenomeno, magari facendocene anche ambasciatori nel nostro anche piccolo cosmo relazionale avremmo senz’altro combattuto la nostra piccola guerra contro il crimine. Certo sarà anche poco emozionante, ma di certo molto efficace. 

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