Page last updated at 21:17 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 22:17 UK

Calabrian mafia's revenues soar

By Frances Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

'Ndrangheta chief Pasquale Condello (centre) escorted by Italian policemen, 19 February 2008
'Ndrangheta chief Pasquale Condello was arrested in February

The mafia in Italy's Calabria region has an annual income equivalent to nearly 3% of Italy's gross national product, according to a new report.

The report estimates the yearly earning of the Calabrian mafia or 'Ndrangheta at 44,000m euros (35,238m).

It says that the criminal and economic reach of the group is not taken seriously by the Italian authorities.

The report shows that the Calabrian mafia is now effectively a multi-national crime corporation.

Drug profits

Analysing official data the Eurispes research institute puts the group's annual income at a staggering 2.9% of Italy's gross national product and more than that of Estonia and Slovenia put together.

Drugs account for more than 60% of that wealth.

Alongside its global reach, the 130 mafia families exert immense control in the Calabria region.

Over the past 15 years, one in 10 local councils in Calabria has been dismissed for alleged mafia infiltration and their dependence on blood ties means that unlike Sicily's Cosa Nostra there are very few mafia informers.

Eurispes chairman Gian Maria Fara says the response of the Italian state is inadequate and that the phenomenon is being under-estimated.

Politicians avoid it because it is a sensitive issue and a problem that is hard to resolve, and the mass media tends to follow suit.

The report underlines that police and magistrates need more resources.

It also warns that the crime syndicate is increasingly penetrating the legal economy, not just in Italy, but further afield, as it seeks to launder its drug profits.

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