Cablegate: Organized Crime Iii: Confronting Organized Crime In

DE RUEHNP #0038/01 1581720
R 061720Z JUN 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 08 NAPLES 000038



E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/6/2018

REF: (A) NAPLES 36, (B) NAPLES 37 (C) 07 NAPLES 118

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REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: This is the third of a three-part series (see
reftels A-B for parts I and II); this message offers views on
how to combat organized crime in Italy. The USG has a
significant stake in the fight against organized crime in Italy.
The Italian crime syndicates help support terrorist groups in
Colombia and Central Asia through drug trafficking; violate the
intellectual property rights of American businesses and artists;
buttress organized crime in the United States; pose potential
public health risks to U.S. military and dependents stationed in
southern Italy; and weaken an important ally. Law enforcement
cooperation has led to many important arrests, particularly in
Sicily, but could be strengthened. However, the apprehension of
criminals is not enough. Trials need to be swifter and
sentences tougher. The seizure of mob assets, not only in
Southern Italy but in the North and in other countries, is
another way to hit hard at these groups, and the economy needs
to offer young people an honest alternative to crime. Education
and awareness-raising among politicians, average citizens and
students are essential elements to any successful strategy
against organized crime. The Italian Catholic Church can also
play a more prominent role, as a couple of brave clerics have
demonstrated. We can also publicly support grassroots
strategies to foster a societal rejection of organized crime.
ConGen Naples strongly supports OFAC's decision to add the
'Ndrangheta to its Drug Kingpin list. End summary.

2. (C) The first two cables in this three-part series were
descriptive, explaining how organized crime is the greatest
threat to economic growth in Southern Italy. This message is
prescriptive, proposing a multi-faceted approach to more
effectively combat organized crime in Italy. Specifically, we
propose consideration of the following tactics as part of a
multi-faceted approach by the USG:

-- Publicly acknowleding both the scope of Italy's organized
crime problem and USG support for Italian efforts to combat it.

-- The committing of greater resources to law enforcement
cooperation with Italy.

-- Fostering closer cooperation between Italian law enforcement
officials and counterparts in other key countries.

-- Conveying to the GOI the view that it has far too few
anti-Mafia magistrates in Calabria, home to the country's
largest criminal organization.

-- Pressing the GOI to root out corruption at its ports.

-- Cooperating more closely with Italy's Central Bank, and
pressing other countries (e.g., Switzerland, Liechtenstein,
Monaco) to cooperate more, in order to crack down on money

-- Working with the GOI to improve a flawed judicial system. If
organized crime is to be brought under control, sentences must
be tougher, appeals limited, and the judicial process made more
efficient. Convicted prisoners cannot be set free because
judges failed to complete paperwork on time.

-- Sharing the USG experience on penal institutions. One of
Italy's biggest problems is a lack of prisons, which means many
of the accused are never jailed and many convicts are released
far in advance of completing their sentences.

-- Giving more visible support for grassroots efforts to fight
organized crime (e.g., groups in Sicily that are leading a
public rebellion against paying extortion).

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-- Helping raise public awareness about the deleterious effects
of organized crime and how it has been dealt with in the United

-- Enlisting the assistance of the Roman Catholic Church to be
more outspoken against organized crime.

-- Encouraging the GOI and EU to invest in infrastructure,
particularly improvements to public security, in southern Italy
and at the same time to tighten accountability for how this
money is spent.

Why We Should Care

3. (SBU) The USG can and should become more engaged for several
key reasons:

-- Drug trafficking by Italian mobs sends money to
narcotraffickers (and thus indirectly to terrorist groups) in
Colombia and Afghanistan, affecting U.S. national security.

-- A 2005 FBI intelligence assessment reported that "Criminal
interaction between Italian organized crime and Islamic
extremist groups provides potential terrorists with access to
funding and logistical support from criminal organizations with
established smuggling routes and an entrenched presence in the
United States." In a public statement given on April 19, 2004,
Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor, Pierluigi Vigna,
indicated a link between Islamic militant groups and the
Camorra, stating that evidence existed implicating the Camorra
in an exchange of weapons for drugs with Islamic terrorist

-- Counterfeiting and piracy of American-made products
(particularly movies, music and software) directly impact U.S.
economic interests.

-- Ties between Italian and U.S. organized crime mutually
reinforce these groups. The links between the Sicilian Cosa
Nostra and the U.S. Mafia go back nearly a century, but the
Camorra and 'Ndrangheta also have affiliates in the United
States, according to the FBI.

-- Amcit residents (including thousands of Navy personnel and
their families in Campania and Sicily) and tourists are affected
by street crime and potentially by the Campania waste crisis
(which result in large part from organized crime -- see reftels)
and illegal toxic dumping in the region.

-- U.S. businesses that would like to invest in Southern Italy
refrain from doing so because of concerns about organized crime.

-- Organized crime weakens an important ally politically,
economically and socially.

Why Law Enforcement Alone is Not Enough

4. (U) In its efforts to defeat organized crime, the Italian
government has been most successful in Apulia, where the Sacra
Corona Unita has been mostly dismantled, and Sicily, where a
multi-faceted approach has led to the arrests of dozens of Cosa
Nostra bosses, important seizures of mob assets, and a growing
rebellion by business owners against the protection racket. Law
enforcement has been one of the keys to progress in Sicily,
where authorities cracked down following the 1992 mob
assassinations of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and
Paolo Borsellino. Wiretapping, plea-bargaining agreements, the
strengthening of a witness protection program, and greater

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security for judges and prosecutors have resulted in the
apprehension of hundreds of Mafia members and associates. The
captures of top bosses Toto Riina in 1993, Bernardo Provenzano
in 2006, and Salvatore Lo Piccolo in 2007 proved to be
significant blows to an organization built on a pyramidal
hierarchy. However, law enforcement successes have not been the
only factor in Sicily's progress against organized crime.
Sicilian citizens' efforts to reject the Mafia are finally
getting traction. The Industrialists Confederation
(Confindustria) has started expelling members who have paid
protection money and not complained to police. At least two new
anti-racket NGOs have been formed, one by consumers and one by
business owners (more below). And even the Church, long
considered complicit for not refusing to preside at lavish Mafia
funerals, has seen a bishop forced to seek police protection for
just that.

5. (C) The situation is starkly different in Campania and
Calabria. Because the Camorra in Campania is not one
organization, but a multitude of armed gangs, there is no one
boss whose capture could cause a significant blow to organized
crime in the region. The war on the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria has
been even more difficult. With members recruited on the basis
of family ties, the 'Ndrangheta is virtually impervious to
police infiltration. "Every cell is composed of people who
belong to family, and this is why there are no justice
collaborators," according to Nicola Gratteri, Calabria's senior
anti-Mafia prosecutor, who adds that only 42 turncoats have come
from the 'Ndrangheta, compared with 700 to 1,000 from the Cosa
Nostra and 2,000 from the Camorra. It would be difficult to
completely duplicate the Sicilian strategy in Campania and
Calabria, but what is clear is that relying merely on arrests is
not enough. As another anti-Mafia prosecutor, Catania-based
Giuseppe Gennaro, told us, "You can apprehend mobsters, but most
are released within five years."

6. (C) Law enforcement alone, however, cannot solve Italy's
organized crime problem. Apulia's success in dismantling Santa
Corona Unita was certainly facilitated by economic development
which offered its citizens an honest alternative; it is southern
Italy's principal economic success story (ref C). Cosenza
sociology professor Giap Parini explained to us that any overall
strategy must include political, economic, and socio-cultural
components in addition to law enforcement elements. Banco di
Napoli President Antonio Nucci told the CG that "the police can
lock up all the people they want, but it won't be enough if
crime is the only job that pays."

7. (SBU) A multi-faceted approach must necessarily include
components designed to change public attitudes towards organized
crime. Ivan Lo Bello, the President of the Sicilian
Industrialists Confederation, told us in December 2007 that the
first step is to "reject the fatalist perspective that things
cannot change. To defeat the Mafia, you need society to band
together. Sanction by society hurts more than sanction by the
state. Gaining greater consensus is the solution, not bringing
in the army." With this in mind, the prescription must include
education and awareness-raising, and support for grassroots
organizations that are standing up to the criminals.

Law Enforcement Approaches

8. (C) As noted above, law enforcement successes have been one
of the keys to the progress in Sicily. A February 2008 joint
U.S.-Italian sting, called "Operation Old Bridge," resulted in
the arrests of over 80 suspects in the United States and over 30
in Sicily, and exposed attempts by the Cosa Nostra to
reestablish ties with New York's Gambino family that would have
increased drug trafficking to Italy. Ironically, there are

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significantly more anti-Mafia prosecutors and magistrates in
Sicily and Campania than in Calabria, where the largest and most
dangerous mob, the 'Ndrangheta, is based. The USG should

-- Greater cooperation with Italian authorities (on the order of
"Old Bridge"), committing more resources and
intelligence-sharing to fighting the Camorra and the
'Ndrangheta; we could also foster much closer cooperation
between Italian authorities and their counterparts in Colombia,
Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Nigeria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
At least two prosecutors have complained to us about the
ineffectiveness of authorities in Spain to combat drug
trafficking by Italian and Spanish organized crime groups.
(Comment: DEA, by contrast, has found Spain to be an
outstanding partner in international drug investigations. The
issue may be one of poor cooperation, rather than any lack of
dedication or competence on either side. End comment.)

-- The need to impress on Italian authorities that far more law
enforcement resources are needed in Calabria, including
dramatically increased numbers of anti-Mafia judges and

-- Pressing Italian authorities to root out corruption at
Italy's ports. There are USG Container Security Initiative
officials present at some ports, but they are focused on
containers destined for the United States. Having seen the
tight security at Calabria's Gioia Tauro port (ref A), ConGen
Naples believes that the reported in-flow of narcotics there can
only be done with the assistance and complicity of corrupt

Financial and Economic Strategies

9. (C) Anti-Mafia prosecutor Gennaro believes that seizure of
assets is a much more important weapon than arrests. "To defeat
the Mafia, you have to attack their profits and investments," he
told us in Catania, Sicily in January 2008. Gennaro expressed
frustration over the discovery that many banks in Italy do not
report suspicious transactions to the Central Bank. It has also
been very difficult for Italian authorities to obtain
information from banking authorities in Switzerland,
Liechtenstein and Monaco, where Mafia members stash away their
earnings in secret accounts. In February 2008, the Treasury
Police in Sicily confiscated mob assets with an estimated worth
of nearly 309 million euros (USD 487 million) -- "a tremendous
blow," according to then-Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, one
that could lead to "a crisis for the entire organization."
Unfortunately, confiscations of this sort happen much less
frequently in Campania and Calabria, let alone in northern
Italy, where much of the money laundering takes place. The USG
should consider:

-- Working more closely with Italy's Central Bank and Fiscal
Police, perhaps via greater sharing of intelligence and
information obtained from investigations, to identify organized
crime assets and ensure that they are frozen or confiscated.

-- Adding all three major Italian mobs to the Office of Foreign
Assets Control's Drug Kingpin list. OFAC has included the
'Ndrangheta on the Tier One list, which could eventually lead to
sanctions on companies dealing with the organization and front
companies that launder money. The 'Ndrangheta is by all
accounts one of Western Europe's biggest drug trafficking
groups, but the Cosa Nostra and Camorra are also heavily engaged
in the narcotics trade.

-- Reinforcing and re-orienting existing programs such as the

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Partnership for Growth, to increase economic growth, which will
create more well-paying alternatives to organized crime.

Judicial Weapons

10. (C) In February 2008, the son of Cosa Nostra boss Toto
Riina was released from jail under a law that frees those who
have been held for five years without a trial, and a prosecutor
was recently skewered by the press for allowing several Mafia
cases to expire (resulting in the release of suspects).
Naples-based former Senator Lorenzo Diana, an organized crime
expert, believes that the Italian justice system needs quicker
trials and stiffer sentences. And Gratteri (the top anti-Mafia
prosecutor in Calabria) contends that, in order to bring down
the 'Ndrangheta, new legislation is needed. "We have no laws
that are proportional to the force of the 'Ndrangheta," he told
us, echoing Gennaro's lament that well-behaved convicts can
leave prison after five years. "I would like ... [them] not to
be released before 30 years." Diana also believes the system
that conducts background checks on those bidding on government
contracts is not working. Unfortunately, the country's
politicians are not focused on these issues, as was clear from
the March-April 2008 election campaign in which organized crime
was barely mentioned. Strengthening the efficiency of the
judiciary and its ability to impose stronger sentences should be
a priority for the next parliament. Furthermore, Italy must
improve civil and criminal courts to enforce commercial
contracts, consumer protections, criminal law, health and safety
standards, building codes, and general quality-of-life
standards. As long as the court systems are dysfunctional, it
will be impossible to reduce organized crime to a manageable

11. (C) We may also want to consider sharing with the GOI the
U.S. experience in construction, management and privatization of
prisons. One of the most serious issues facing Italian law
enforcement is the lack of prisons. At the end of 2007,
according to the Justice Ministry, Italian jails held 113
inmates for every 100 beds. In 2006, the GOI granted early
release to several thousand convicts in an effort to alleviate
the overcrowding; MOJ statistics show the recividism rate to be
31 percent. A Carabinieri colonel complained to the CG in April
2008 that police are frustrated by their inability to keep
accused or suspected mobsters in jail because of the lack of

Support for Grassroots Change

12. (C) Lo Bello, the President of the Sicilian Confindustria,
took the bold step in September 2007 of instituting a policy
(adopted by unanimous vote) of expelling members who have paid
protection money to the Mafia and not complained to police.
Since that time, around 35 members have been asked to leave the
Confederation. This courageous move has been praised by
business owners, the media and political leaders. Lo Bello told
us in January 2008 that "The time has come [for Sicily] to move
from an archaic, feudal past to modernity." When we met with
them in late 2007, the Calabrian Industrialists were much more
timid, looking over their backs before telling us that the time
is not right for business owners to take a public stand against
extortion there. (In June 2006, one of the founders of the
Calabria anti-racket association, Fedele Scarcella, was brutally
assassinated; his charred corpse was discovered in his burned
car in what authorities described as "very probably a Mafia
homicide.") Nonetheless, the media reported in March 2008 on
talks between the two regions' Industrialists Confederations on
collaborating against organized crime. Lo Bello was quoted as
declaring, "It may seem simple, but what has happened has

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changed the framework of the entire region: the idea that the
fight against the Mafia cannot be delegated only to the State,
but needs to include an assumption of responsibility on the part
of Southern Italian society: in this case, the world of
entrepreneurship." Also in March, the Industrialists
Confederation in Caserta (Campania) took initial steps toward a
similar policy, drawing praise from the anti-Mafia prosecutor.
Lo Bello hopes to enlist other business and trade associations
to adopt similar rules. Unfortunately, most Sicilian business
owners are still unwilling to complain about extortion. In May
2008, a prominent businessman, Vincenzo Conticello, who has
refused to pay protection money for his Palermo focaccia
restaurant, told the CG that he had heard (probably from his
police escort) that of 170 companies named in the accounting
books of apprehended Mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo, only three
have owned up to it, while the others claim the accounts are in

13. (SBU) Sicilian businesses, emboldened by the arrests of top
Mafia bosses, are openly defying the Mafia by signing on with a
grassroots organization called "Addiopizzo" (Goodbye "Pizzo,"
the Italian word for extortion payments), which brings together
businesses in Palermo that are resisting extortion. The
campaign was launched in 2004 by a group of youths thinking of
opening a pub. They started off by plastering Palermo with
anti-pizzo fliers, reading "AN ENTIRE PEOPLE THAT PAYS THE PIZZO
IS A PEOPLE WITHOUT DIGNITY," and eventually brought their
campaign online where it struck a chord with Sicilians fed up
with Mafia bullying. The rebellion has since spread to other
strongholds of the most ruthless Mafia clans, including places
such as Gela, an industrial coastal town, where some 80 business
owners in recent months have denounced extortion attempts. This
is a dramatic turn since the early 1990's, when a Gela merchant
who denounced extortion was slain by the Mafia, and a Gela car
dealer, whose showroom was repeatedly torched, had to move his
family and change his name after he testified in court.
"Addiopizzo" has recently launched a supermarket selling
products certified as being "pizzo" free, and maintains a public
list on the internet of businesses rejecting extortion. Another
NGO was launched last November by forty Sicilian business owners
to assist entrepreneurs who refuse to pay extortion money. The
group is called "Libero Futuro," which translates "Free Future,"
but also pays homage to Libero Grassi, a Sicilian businessman
who was murdered in 1991 for refusing to pay protection money.
In response to the organization's founding, Palermo mayor Diego
Cammarata promised 50,000 euros to assist merchants who have
been victims of extortion. "This rebellion goes to the heart
of the Mafia," says Palermo prosecutor Maurizio De Lucia, who
has investigated extortion cases for years. "If it works, we
will have a great advantage in the fight against the Mafia."

14. (SBU) For authorities battling the 'Ndrangheta, a welcome
ally has been "Ammazzateci Tutti," ("Kill Us All") formed three
years ago by fed-up young people in the wake of the mob
assassination of Calabria regional Vice President Fortugno. In
a recent news interview, Bruno Marino, a student whose father
was killed by the 'Ndrangheta, likened the 'Ndrangheta to "an
octopus that tries to control everything and to kill all of the
fish." Since its founding, Ammazzateci Tutti has held regular
demonstrations designed to pressure the Italian state into
taking action against the 'Ndrangheta. In February 2007, a
protest in Reggio Calabria drew thousands into the streets.
Later in the year, the group staged regular protests against the
government's pending transfer of Luigi De Magistris, an
anti-Mafia prosecutor investigating links between politicians
and the 'Ndrangheta. "Ammazzateci Tutti is a message that
expresses both hope and challenge to the 'Ndrangheta, saying,
'See if you have enough lead to kill us all,' " according to
Aldo Pecora, a law student and spokesman for the group. "It is
also a challenge to normal people to rebel against the the

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'Ndrangheta." These groups are having an impact, but they
remain fledgling organizations with little official backing.
The USG can lend public support to these groups (a member of
Addiopizzo, for example, was selected for the State Department's
International Visitor program.)

Education and Public Awareness

15. (SBU) Many of our interlocutors believe that the long-term
solution to organized crime is education. This means breaking
the pervasive culture of organized crime which controls
societies through power and fear. It means destroying the
glamorous image that young people have of Mafia bosses and more
openly and directly supporting those who defy the Mafia. It
means getting consumers to realize that the prices of a bottle
of olive oil, a jar of tomato sauce, a bottle of wine -- the
staples of Italian life -- have been inflated by organized
crime, or that the products themselves have been adulterated by
the same sources. It also means breaking the culture of
illegality that is so rampant in Southern Italy but also felt
countrywide; that is, the blatant disregard for the law by
average citizens and the lack of a sense of civic
responsibility. Naples Chief Prosecutor GianDomenico Lepore
told the CG -- while lighting a cigar in a no-smoking office to
underscore his point -- that Neapolitans have something "in
their DNA" that causes them to react to any law by breaking it.
Campania Carabinieri General Franco Mottola told the CG that the
Camorra exploits a general atmosphere of delinquency in Naples.
He suggested the change needed to start in the schools, but
added that first teacher training would be required ("they can't
teach what they don't know"). We could perhaps encourage the
Italian government to make greater outreach efforts in poor
neighborhoods, and to offer alternatives to a life of crime for
young people. There is a conspicuous lack of a visible police
presence throughout Naples, and there have been countless cases
of Neapolitans protecting criminals from police trying to
apprehend them.

16. (U) Instead of Mafia dons, those fighting them need to be
regarded as the real role models. Roberto Saviano, whose book
"Gomorrah" was an international best-seller in 2007, may be well
on his way. He appears regularly in print and broadcast media
as not just an authority on the mob, but more importantly as a
moral compass for those willing to listen. The film version,
released in May 2008, will probably have an even bigger impact,
as it underscores the Camorra's influence in toxic waste dumping
and features hip young actors and a score by popular musicians.
Saviano's book and the film (for which he wrote the screenplay)
are also keys to convincing Italians that organized crime is not
just a southern problem, but an Italian problem. When asked how
the USG could best assist in the fight against organized crime
beyond law enforcement cooperation, Saviano told the CG in April
2008, "Just talking about it, you give the issue a credibility
that the rest of the world, including the Italians, cannot

The Role of the Church

17. (C) The Italian Catholic Church has often come under fire
for not taking a stronger public stance against organized crime.
One of the few priests who have, Father Luigi Merola, is now
under police escort after working against the Camorra in the
poor Naples neighborhood of Forcella. In February 2008, he
inaugurated a foundation for at-risk youth in the confiscated
villa of a former Camorra boss. ConGen Naples and local U.S.
Navy personnel are lending their support to the foundation by
volunteering to teach English, build sports facilities and coach
the kids who participate in the foundation's programs, which are

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designed to offer the kids an alternative to crime. Another
Church official, Bishop Michele Pennisi of Piazza Armerina in
Sicily, is also under police escort after refusing to preside
over funerals of mafiosi. We may want to consider seeking
greater Church cooperation against organized crime, perhaps
through channels at the Holy See or with Italian Church leaders.

"Heal the Periphery" - Improve Infrastructure
--------------------------------------------- -

18. (SBU) The GOI and European Union should be encouraged to
review the way public money is invested in Southern Italy. As
noted in ref B, infrastructure contracts often wind up going to
mob-owned businesses, who steal millions while building
sub-standard roads, tunnels, bridges and public housing.
Instead, recommends Naples-based former Senator Diana, "Heal the
periphery. Take ten places and invest 100 - 200 million euros
in them." He says that money could be spent building parks and
improving security (e.g., with lighting and video cameras),
creating conditions unfavorable to organized crime.

19. (C) Comment: Although law enforcement, business
associations, citizens' groups, and the church, at least in some
locations, are demonstrating promising engagement in fighting
organized crime, the same cannot be said of Italy's politicians,
particularly at the national level. As Roberto Saviano has
reminded us, the subject was virtually absent from the
March-April election campaign. At the national level it is
generally referred to, if at all, as a "southern" issue,
although it affects the entire country and although the South's
criminal organizations have made worrying advances in the North.
Even in Sicily, where regional elections were precipitated by
former governor Cuffaro's conviction for Mafia-related crimes,
discussion of crime was not a major part of the campaign (and
Cuffaro was elected to the Senate). We should work to convey to
Italy's new government that organized crime is a serious USG
priority, and that the dramatic economic costs of organized
crime present a convincing argument for immediate action.
However, we should not limit our support for Italy's organized
crime efforts to private conversations; on the contrary, our
public advocacy for the efforts of Confindustria, Addiopizzo,
Church clerics, and others will give them both greater
visibility and enhanced credibility, just as many Italians
ignored the impressive innovations of their own research
institutions before the Mission's Partnership for Growth program
began to champion them. End comment.

20. (U) This three-part cable series was coordinated with and
cleared by relevant agencies and sections in Embassies Rome and

© Scoop Media

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