Mafia sinking claws into rich north, observatory warns

A military police officer in Rome's historic center on January 22, 2014, after a massive round up against the Contini clan of the Neapolitan Camorra MafiaOne of Italy’s most powerful mafia syndicates is expanding beyond its southern heartland and taking root in the wealthy north of the country, the Organised Crime Observatory warned on Thursday. Families from the ‘Ndrangheta organisation are infiltrating small towns in northern Italy, “influencing local government and monopolising sectors key to the mafia economy,” the country’s organised crime watchdog said. The mafia has traditionally flourished in poor southern Italy, but networks of mobsters from the Calabria region are increasingly taking advantage of a reduced police presence in small northern towns and the fact that fewer votes are needed to get elected to town councils. The revelation came just days after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to make inroads into widespread corruption in northern Italy by boosting the powers wielded by top magistrate Raffaele Cantone, famed for investigations into organised crime groups.