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.
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.
The Mafia’s glamorized sheen in America’s collective conscience might be due to the fact that the Mafia never attained much power in the U.S. Compared with Italy, fewer lives have been lost and fewer businesses destroyed by the organized crime syndicate. Today many see the Mafia as a relic of the past.
It’s long been common practice in Hollywood to cast conventionally attractive actors as sympathetic criminal antiheroes. Humphrey Bogart in “King of the Underworld,” Al Pacino in “The Godfather” trilogy and Denzel Washington in “American Gangster” are just a few examples.