Sicilian Mafia (19th century – present):

This 200 year old Mafia went through a very tough trial in 1986 that lasted 1 year. 342 of some of their top leaders were put in jail. The result? The Mafia retaliated against the law-people and have killed a lot of officials. The entire 90s era was a period of slaughter on the part of the Sicilian Mafia. Any prosecutor who was investigating their case was ending up dead or their families dead.

The Sicilian Mafia engages in large scale “racketing”, asking money (taxes) for protection or other purposes from Sicilian businesses. Around 70% of Sicilian businesses pay “protection money” to them, between 200 and 5.000 Euros. These activities of this Mafia costs the Sicilian government some 10 billion Euros a year. Keep in mind, Sicily is a 5 million strong population area. This Mafia also makes some 6.5 billion Euros “through control of public and private contracts” yearly.

Bernardo Provenzano, a “top” member and leader of a Sicilian Mafia’s clan, was on the run for an unprecedented 43 years, evading laws and police, until he was caught in 2006 and put into prison at the age of 72. The funny thing is that this guy tried to create a Sicilian clan that was less violent (yet still engaging in lots of illegal activities), but after his capture the police feared that other, more violent leaders, will take his place. So, his arrest could lead to even more violence.

This guy died in 2016 and now the boss of the clan is “Matteo Messina Denaro” – a criminal with over 50 crimes under his belt (he used to brag that he can build a cemetery in “his name” based on how many people he killed) – He is on the run since 1993, being on the top ten list of most wanted criminals in the world. The story seems to repeat itself…Interestingly the police seized billions of money and assets and buildings and land from people controlled by Matteo, and despite that these Mafia guys seem to produce more billions. So, the story repeats itself even more, with law-people arresting and seizing, and the Mafia making more money and creating more members.

‘Ndrangheta (1890 – present):

This powerful Mafia of about 100 clans and 10.000 members is spread around the world. In Italy their illegal activities accounted for about 3.5% of the tribe’s GDP (that is as much as a country is worth). Their overall yearly revenue is around $55 billion (30-40 billion Euros). They specialized at forcing big businesses to operate in a way that the Mafia would make lots and lots of money. For example, in Germany, they forced the owners of restaurants, ice cream parlours, hotels and pizzerias to buy wine, pizza dough, pastries and other products made in southern Italy (so that the Mafia made profits). One of the clan leaders was able to easily control its people from prison, and these people were controlling (on their side) bakeries, vineyards, olive groves, funeral homes, launderettes, plastic recycling plants and shipyards. Lots of businesses controlled from inside a prison. This clan controls huge portions of Calabria (territory and economy), with a population of ~2 million.

One of the most powerful clans of ‘Ndrangheta’ forced two of the biggest companies that were in charge of the largest container terminal in the Mediterranean to pay them a ‘tax’ of $1.5 for each container. That equated to almost half of the profits of those two companies. In other words the ‘Ndrangheta clan became the most profitable business in that port. On top of that they forced these two companies and the ones in that area to hire the people that ‘Ndrangheta’ recommended. Those two big companies signed an anti corruption pact with the government beforehand, but of course that’s just paper…it had no effect. Through the same port that ‘Ndrangheta’ controls, 80% of Europe’s cocaine passes through.

Camorra (17th century – present):

A 2007 report showcased that Camorra is “the second-largest Italian Trade Organization” and that they “control the milk and fish industries, the coffee trade, and over 2.500 bakeries in Naples”. In 1987 there were 26 Camorra clans; the following year, 32; and in the present it is estimated that there are “111 Camorra clans and over 6.700 members in Naples and the immediate surroundings”. Their number is growing, and don’t forget that this organization is active since 1.600 and has been through a lot of arrests, lost goods and money through police seizures, lost members and territories, and so forth, yet they continue to survive, thrive, and expand.  Today this criminal organization dwarfs “the Sicilian Mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta’ and southern Italy’s other organised gangs, in numbers, in economic power and in ruthless violence.” One time the Camorra made $1 billion in profits by taking $1 bills, bleached them out, and reprinted them as $100 bills. Ingenious.

One Camorra clan forced an entire city of 55.000 people to pay a tax (from the shops in the center to ambulant street sellers) of about 500 to 2.000 Euros a month. Another clan makes around 600-700 million Euros a year from illegal activities today, and they used to make tens of billions in the 80s and 90s. Another clan of the same Camorra group is one of the most powerful clans in the world with some 9.000 members and their current assets stand at about 30 billion Euros. Police seized billions of Euros worth of properties, goods and money from the Camorra clan yet they are continuing to make more billions. Familiar story!?