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

How can we define mafia?

In organized crime, we distinguish a set of families that range from the weakest form (where we structure ourselves around an activity) to the most developed and complete form, such as the mafia. In the world, Italy is the only country that legally defines what constitutes a mafia or mafia association crime. In 1982, Rome passed a law to distinguish this activity from a simple offense of criminal association. Italy wants to show here that we are one level above when it comes to organized crime. According to article 416 bis of the Italian Criminal Code – reference – the Mafia is defined when there is an associative relationship strong enough to create conquest and omerta (law of silence).

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The organization is mafia-type when it violates, of course, but also when it exists in the realm of economic law (mastery of public contracts) and legal politics (efforts to control and manipulate voting expression). If an organization fulfills these functions, we can talk about the mafia.

This article is taken from “Le Monde Special Edition: The Mafias, how organized crime threatens the world” 2022. This special edition is sold in kiosks or on the Internet by visiting the website our shop.

Based on this definition of stricto sensu, are there any criminal organizations in other parts of the world that fall into this category? “mafia” ?

When laws were adopted in 1982, legislators targeted Cosa Nostra (the Sicilian Mafia) and immediately asked the question: is Camorra (Mafia Naples) under the Mafia? Finally we admit it, that’s why the revision of article 416 bis. A paragraph is added to designate, apart from the Sicilian, any other forms that unite these characteristics, such as the Camorra or the ‘Ndrangheta (Calabrian Mafia), but also foreign organizations. So, on the Italian peninsula there are three classics: Sicily, Naples, Calabria. If we look at the characteristics, especially the shutter which is very durable over time, I overlap the term “mafia” Japanese yakuza and Chinese triads. The question arose for a while for Russia, as the term was widely used and exploited under Vladimir Putin. However, it is a way of designating anything and everything, like the Uzbek mafia (cotton mafia). But it is hyper-specialized, while the mafia is diversified in its activities. Therefore we cannot say “oil mafia” or other areas. We are out of reach!

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