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The drug trade and the Mafia

1) There is more drug money in circulation today than what is raised on all the world's stock markets.

2) Coca, cannabis, and opium crops each account for about 150,000 hectares of farmland (Labrousse 2004: 3). Drug-traffickers use the same routes as arms dealers, gem importers, and people-smugglers. The producing countries are few:

a) Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia for coca

b) Burma and Afghanistan for opium

c) Morocco, Afghanistan, and Pakistan for cannabis

3) The coca business was started by gangs in Peru and Colombia. In Bolivia it was started by the State. The FARC guerillas are in charge of security for laboratories in Colombia, so that raw materials can be imported from Peru and Bolivia.

4) The places where people die violent deaths are, in absolute numbers, principally Brazil and India (over 57,000 victims in 2002). As proportions of population the largest numbers of violent deaths occur in Mexico, Colombia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Angola, El Salvador, Guatemala, Venezuela, Somalia, Russia, and Liberia.

5) The film The Godfather hid an unglamorous truth. In the 1980s, eighty per cent of heroin exported to the north-east USA came from Sicily. The Corleone family was able to establish a hegemony over other families at the price of hundreds of lives, among them the police chief Dalla Chiesa, the judges Falcone and Borsellino, the respected businessman Ignazio Salvo, the MEP Salvo Lima, and, most eminent of all, giulio Andreotti, leader of the Christian Democratic party. This led to a real shoot-out between State and Mafia.

It resulted in near-collapse of both the Christian Democratic and the Socialist parties, both of which had profited from co-operation with the Mafia. The dénouement saw a thousand Mafiosi arrested, among them the head of the Corleone family, Toto Riina, in 1993.

6) A more realistic film about the American Mafia was Bonanno - A Godfather's Story (1999). This film shows how five New York families helped the US Army fight the Germans and the Fascists on Sicily, and how they were subsequently "betrayed" by the same political establishment which helped them initially.

7) After this defeat, the Mafia changed strategy radically, shifting from a policy of confrontation with the Italian State to one of diplomatic negotiation, and moving their investments into legitimate businesses. The organization also started its own political party. Support by Lega Sud Ausonia helped Silvio Berlusconi to win the election of 2001.

8) There are four main gateways for drugs to enter Europe: Amsterdam-Rotterdam, the Spanish Basque country, the Côte d'Azur, and Corsica. Caravans from central Asia (Uzbekistan, Afghanistan) enter via Berlin. Of these routes, Amsterdam-Rotterdam is the worst; customs there are so lax that drugs enter by the container load.

9) The drugcapitals are: Cali and Medellin in Colombia; Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Miami in the USA; Palermo and Naples in Europe; Hong Kong in Asia.

10) A globalized world means that national borders are ignored. The international Mafia has understood this better than our political leaders. Mafia businesses are spreading to all parts of the world. Sicily and Sardinia seem to be at a point of no return. Other regions such as Corsica, Andalusia, and parts of the French Riviera are going the same way (Minc 1993: 82). According to Alain Minc (op. cit.: 84), the Mafia operates in three different modes of interaction with political power:

a) on the periphery, as in Italy

b) at the centre, as in Russia

11) There are four main mafias or organized-crime groups in the world: Russian, Chinese, Italian, and Japanese. The others are just loosely-organized criminal gangs. In China companies are at the end often owned by the communist party, or they are owned by some mafia group, many of whom built their fortunes at the start of the 20thcentury

12) The Italian mafias comprise three groups: the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, Cosa Nostra on Sicily, and the Camorra in and around Naples. Of the three, the 'Ndrangheta is proving the most effective, because it builds on close family ties, making infiltration difficult.

13) The largest number of organized-crime groups is found in Russia (160,000 members in 12,000 groups), followed by the Sicilian mafia (50,000 members belonging to 150 families), Sun Yee, one of the Hong Kong Triads (50,000 members), Wo Shing Wo (another Hong Kong Triad group, 40,000 members, ten clans), and Cosa Nostra in the USA (40,000 members in 25 families). (See Atlas der Globalisierung 2003: 34-5.)

14) The Japanese Yakuza with some 84,000 members, of which half are part-timers, and with an estimated annual revenue of about 21 billion US dollars, is the only mafia organization to be integrated into a modern industrial society (Economist 2009). It achieved this with American help.

15) Ryoichi Sasakawa, Yoshio Kodama, and their accomplices looted China and transported much of its Treasury to Japan in the closing days of the Second World War. After the war they were released from US military prison in order to work as CIA agents, to strengthen the Japanese mafia, and to crush any socialist movements in Japan. Part of the money they had stolen in China was used to finance their operations. The remainder was deposited in American banks.

16) After being seriously damaged in a shoot-out with the Italian government in the early 1990s, the Italian mafias realized that it was time to become respectable (as in the film). They had plenty of money. To achieve respectability they invested in legitimate businesses such as real estate, in the South of France and in Yugoslavia but also in Germany. They recruited well-educated people to their organizations in order to look more legitimate. New groups have emerged in their place in the illegal business sector, consisting partly of new Italian families, but also of foreigners, from Russia, Albania, and South America.

17) Mafia organizations appear when the State is weak and people need protection. The Normans and the Holy Roman Emperor left a power vacuum on Sicily. After the Cold War we saw the same mechanism operate in parts of Africa and in Russia.

18) The solution is to create anti-terrorist organizations operating overseas to destroy their leadership. This can be achieved by the armed forces. We need to become proactive. At home we are buying alarms to protect our cars. That is not an effective way to reduce crime. Democracies are no threat to mafia organizations; on the contrary, they thrive under democratic regimes.

19) We must prepare for the change. We must fight terrorism with terrorism. This will be a fifty-year effort, which has already begun.

20) Soviet ballistic-missile components are being moved around more or less everywhere in the Islamic zone. All round them we find organized crime.

21) There are four piracy hot spots in the world: off the coasts of Nigeria, Somalia, the Yemen, and Malaysia.

22) Large-scale drug dealers do not face courts of law in Russia, Mexico, or China. They are summarily executed.

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