The Mafia Is Alive, Well, and Controlling Bread Prices in Italy
The police allege that bread retailers of all sizes, whether a street vendor or a supermarket, have had to buy their bread from bakeries tied to the Camorra Mafia for years.
Thanks to movies like The Godfather cementing the image of tuxedoed mobsters hanging out in cigar rooms in our collective memory, the Mafia can oftentimes feel like a thing of the past. But over in Italy, they're still a big deal. Some estimates say the mob accounts for up to 7 percent of the country's GDP. And among their nefarious activities these days, contributing to the billions of dollars in the mob's coffers? Jacking up the price of bread on the unsuspecting public.
Italian police recently arrested 24 people believed to have ties to the Mafia for fixing the price of bread in northern neighbourhoods of Naples to high above market rate. The police allege that bread retailers of all sizes, whether a street vendor or a supermarket, have had to buy their bread from bakeries tied to the Camorra Mafia for years, or otherwise deal with some of the mob's famous extracurriculars, according to The Local.
"Only a few dared not to" buy bread from the mob, said Giuseppe Furciniti, the commander of Naples' organised crime unit. Those who sourced their baked goods elsewhere could see their shops burned or would be otherwise punished.
This isn't the first time members of the Camorra family in Naples have been arrested for carb-related reasons. A couple months back, a Camorra boss got busted by cops posing as pizza delivery boys when he ordered a pie to his house while watching a soccer game. It's hard for mobsters to resist the dough (pun intended).
This time the takedown wasn't as Hollywood-ready. The arrests—which come with charges of Mafia association, drug trafficking, racketeering, weapons possession, and murder, to name a few—were performed after evidence was collected through surveillance and wiretaps.
Just a few days earlier, a 'Ndrangheta boss, Ernesto Fazzalari, was caught after 20 years on the lam in Calabria, the 'Ndrangheta's home turf. The 'Ndrangheta are the biggest of Italy's three top organised crime families, which also include the Camorra in Naples and the Cosa Nostra in Sicily. In 2014, the 'Ndrangheta made more money than McDonald's and Deutsche Bank combined, according to a study.
But for the 24 arrested in Naples, it looks like the days of monopolising the bread scene are over. Going forward, the Camorra will have to bake up a new scheme to take its place.