“For the mafia, entry into legality is an end in itself”

How can we define the mafia?

In organized crime we distinguish a series of families ranging from the weakest forms (where we structure ourselves around an activity) to the most developed and complete forms such as the mafia groups. In the world, Italy is the only country that has legally defined what would be a mafia or the crime of a mafia association. In 1982 Rome enacted a law to distinguish this activity from the simple offense of criminal association. Italy wants to show here that we are a class better when it comes to organized crime. According to Article 416 bis of the Italian Penal Code – the reference – the mafia is defined when there is an associative bond strong enough to create submission and omerta (the law of silence).

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers The Anti-Mafia Act passed the House of Representatives

The organization is of course mafia-like when it commits crimes, but also when it acts in the legal sphere of economics (control of public contracts) and in the legal sphere of politics (attempts to control and manipulate the expression of Die Wahl). When an organization performs these functions, we can speak of a mafia.

This article is taken from “Le Monde Special: Mafias, How Organized Crime Threatens the World” 2022. This special edition is available in kiosks or online on the website of Our store.

Based on this strict definition, are there any criminal organizations in the rest of the world that fall into this category? “Mafia” ?

When the law was passed in 1982, lawmakers targeted the Cosa Nostra (the Sicilian Mafia) and immediately asked the question: Was the Camorra (the Neapolitan Mafia) part of the Mafia? In the end we recognize it, hence the revision of Article 416 bis. A paragraph is added to name any other form besides Sicily that combines these characteristics, such as the Camorra or the ‘Ndrangheta (Calabrian mafia), but also foreign organizations. There are three classics on the Italian peninsula: Sicilian, Neapolitan and Calabrian. Let’s look at the features, especially the extremely durable shutter over time, I overlap under the term “Mafia” the Japanese Yakuza and the Chinese Triads. The question arose for Russia for a while because the term was widely used and exploited under Vladimir Putin. However, it’s a way of referring to just about anything and everyone, like the Uzbek mafia (the cotton mafia). But it is hyper-specialization, while the mafias are diversified in their activities. So we can’t say “oil mafia” or another area. We’re out of range!

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