From the AP:
While businesses around the world are hunkering down for survival, the Italian mob is living a golden moment. Italy’s various organized crime syndicates – often lumped together colloquially as Mafia Inc. – are gobbling up gas stations, muscling in on supermarket franchises, making loans to cash-starved businesses, taking over trattorias and acquiring buildings in swank neighborhoods in Rome and Milan, investigators say.
The Rome-based Eurispes think tank has estimated that in 2008, “Mafia Inc.” earned euro130 billion (then $167 billion), or about 8 percent of Italy’s GDP, from its criminal activities, nearly half of that from drug trafficking. Eurispes, which analyzes social, economic and criminal trends, said loansharking brought in an estimated euro12.6 billion ($17 billion) of that income. It calculated that some 180,000 merchants and other businessmen got their loans, directly or indirectly, through organized crime in Italy.
And it’s not just drugs:
Trafficking in fake designer goods – which investigators suspect the Camorra is also peddling in the United States, France, Britain and Germany – is now becoming more profitable for the Neapolitan syndicate that dealing in cocaine and hashish, said Mainolfi, the customs and tax police general. He has calculated that for every euro it costs to manufacture the counterfeit designer goods, the Camorra earns 10 euros, while for every euro spent to run drug trafficking, it earns six or seven euros.