Controlling a whole city
It can sometimes be hard to grasp the extent to which the Mafia operates its extortion racket against businesses, and the extent to which it controls so many businesses with threats of bombs, violence and death.
An Italian investigating Judge, Francesco Agnino, came across Mafia extortion activities that were so pervasive, the whole city of Foggia, was under the control of the fifth Mafia, the Società Foggiana. In order to provide visibility over the problem, he decided to publish the names of the businesses being extorted by the Società Foggiana with the amounts extorted, as part of an investigation that was revealed by law enforcement last week.
Monthly extortion payments
In Foggia, extortion payments by the Società Foggiana are called an insurance premium.
Among the extortions found by law enforcement were:
- Buononato SNC, a funereal home forced to pay €3,000 per month;
- Fabbri SRL, an excavation company forced to pay €1,200 per month; and
- Alessandro Carniola, a promoter forced to pay €1,500 per month.
Forced hires of Mafia family and friends
Some businesses were forced to hire employees who were members or friends of the Società Foggiana. For example, Daunia Spedizioni SRL, a transportation company, was forced to pay an undisclosed amount in extortion and hire three people aligned with the Mafia.
Rigging horse races
A horse jockey was forced to rig a standardbred horse race so that bets placed on a less favoured horse where the odds were higher, would pay out when the horse placed. Only the horse didn’t place and the Mafia threatened to kill the jockey and his son if he did not pay the Mafia back the money they would have made.
Two other jockeys who raced horses with best ranking finish times, were forced to rig standardbred horse races at the Ippodromo Del Sauri to make sure that their horses did not place so that the highest odds were paid out to the Mafia. Standardbred horse races tend to be favoured by Mafia for rigging because there is less oversight compared to thoroughbred horse racing. Different groups of Mafia have rigged horse races in the past. In 2017, the Palermo racetrack was suspended after law enforcement found evidence that the Cosa Nostra Mafia was rigging races and bets.
In Sicily, they also engage in illegal horse racing in the streets for money, a practice that involves drugging horses and forcing them to run for many miles, chasing them with scooters to terrorize them into continuing to run to exhaustion.
Every sector was paying extortion
The tentacles of the Mafia in Foggia were felt in the food services sector – at the local farmer’s market, a merchant from Cerignola was forced to pay €3,000 a month to the Mafia. Tamma, a pasta factory, was forced to pay the Mafia €3,000 per month and forced to hire associates of the Società Foggiana in the factory.
Bars, restaurants, cafes and funeral homes were all forced to pay extortion fees to the Mafia.
Despite Covid-19, the Società Foggiana has continued its extortion, robbery, murder, gambling and fraud activities. A report (here) by Le Iene, covers their Covid-19 activities. In April, they bombed an old age home because its owner would not pay an extortion fee.
According to the investigation, the different families of the Società Foggiana met to go over lists of businesses that were paying extortion fees, with a view to identifying any that were not part of the payment scheme so that they could be “attacked.”
A Christmas bonus for the Mafia
The investigators said that they learned that extortion is calculated per month but is collected only every three months and then once more for Christmas, as a Christmas bonus for the Mafia.
The investigation led to the arrests of several members of the Società Foggiana this month for extortion, violence, attempted murder and membership in the Mafia.
In a new accelerated criminal trial process, 25 members of the Società Foggiana were convicted and sentenced to terms of incarceration ranging from four months to 18 years.
The Società Foggiana is called the fifth Mafia because they are considered the fifth Mafia organized group to form. They are the most violent at this time and the least interested in being opaque.