Traditional organized-crime rackets like betting and construction are bleeding the New York mafia dry. But in Italy, the mobs are stronger than ever.
ROME—The New York mafia is taking a hit from the novel coronavirus pandemic after many of its money-making outlets have been shuttered.
Gambling halls, sporting events, and construction projects have long fed the Empire State gangs, but now that they are taking an “historic” blow, a law-enforcement source told the New York Post. “There’s never been a time when they weren’t making money through gambling,” the source said.
The American mafia families are also losing out on the extortion racket after restaurants and other entities close their doors under New York City’s “shelter in place” order. A halt to non-essential construction jobs, which includes transportation and port entry, has also put a dent in the U.S. mob’s profits.
U.S. taxpayers have already paid for the research and testing of the most promising treatments
There’s much we don’t yet know about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last, when a vaccine will be developed, or how many lives antiviral medications can save. But there’s one thing we know for sure: U.S. taxpayers have already paid for the research and testing of the most promising treatments.
These treatments should be available to everyone who needs them at no cost. But the Trump administration’s drug policy is led by two former pharmaceutical executives, and that is having devastating consequences for potential access to treatments and vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’ve been watching Donald Trump’s daily press briefings, that might come as a surprise. During his 2016 campaign, Trump loved to talk tough on pharma and say he would fight for lower drug prices. But then he put Alex Azar, a big pharma CEO infamous for doubling the price of insulin, in charge of regulating health care. Several weeks ago, Azar refused to guarantee that a coronavirus vaccine will be affordable for all, citing the need to protect big pharma’s profits.
Agents also seized more than 20 kilograms of drugs and $20 million in cash from the cartel, the Justice Department said.
DEA agents move in on a residential house during an arrest of a suspected drug trafficker on Wednesday in Diamond Bar, California. Federal agents fanned out across the U.S. after a six-month investigation aimed at dismantling the upper echelon of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Wednesday announced more than 750 arrests after a six-month investigation targeting Mexico’s violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG.
The Drug Enforcement Administration-led operation, called “Project Python,” is the largest to date in U.S. efforts to take down the notorious drug dealing organization now considered one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and known for brutal kidnappings and murders in that country.
In addition to the nationwide arrests, agents seized more than 20 kilograms of drugs and $20 million in cash. Officials say the cartel has hubs in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Chicago and Atlanta and is a major presence on the Southwest border.
“CJNG has contributed to a catastrophic trail of human and physical destruction in Mexico,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczowski. “It is the most well-armed cartel in Mexico. Its members willingly confront rival cartels and even the security forces of the Mexican government. CJNG is responsible for grisly acts of violence and loss of life.”
The US restriction of travelers from Mexico has become a major hurdle for Mexican drug traffickers.
The coronavirus epidemic is affecting the global economy in the most serious of ways, and the Mexican government is scrambling to contain its spread. Even though the country has yet to implement a full lockdown, the coronavirus epidemic is taking its toll on the economy. Mexican drug trafficking syndicates have not been spared either. Just like legitimate businesses, they are beginning to feel the pinch.
Limited Supply of Drugs Precursor Ingredients from China
China is a prime manufacturing powerhouse. As the epicenter of the coronavirus scourge, it was the first country in the world to go into lockdown. Since the outbreak, the country’s industries have had to scale back production to allow the epidemic to blow itself out. The result is a decrease in supplies to overseas companies.
Mexican drug cartels typically get precursors for opiates, such as fentanyl and meth, from China. The novel virus has, however, held up the supply chain. According to a recent Vice report, the Sinaloa Cartel, the most dominant cartel in the region has increased narcotics prices as a result.
Methamphetamine prices have been hiked by over five times. According to the investigative report, Mexican drug lord Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada has ordered his dealers to increase the price of meth from $100 a pound to $600. Fentanyl prices have also soared from $35,000 a kilo to $42,000. The raw chemicals are a major export of Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic. The zone was among the first in mainland China to have its factories shut down.
As Italy mourns thousands of coronavirus dead, and survivors brace for life in an economic wasteland, one rung of society looks to win big: organised crime.
“The Italian mafia can turn threats into opportunities,” top government anti-mafia investigator Giuseppe Governale told AFP.
Over 10,000 people have died in Italy of the flu-like disease, which has forced the country into a lockdown that is devastating the eurozone’s third largest economy.
From the historic Cosa Nostra in Sicily, to the immensely powerful ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria and trigger-happy Camorra in Naples, Italy’s mafias were “caught on the back foot (by the virus), but are now organising themselves,” Governale said.
The Economist Intelligence Unit said Thursday it expected Italy’s GDP to contract by a colossal seven percent for the year. Italian experts say some 65 percent of Italian small and medium businesses are at risk of bankruptcy.