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Corridors of Power: Mafia Finances, Manning's Gift to Condi, and More

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007

TONY SOPRANO, EAT YOUR HEART OUT -- Italy's harassed store owners paid $8.5 billion in protection money to organized crime in one year, almost all of it in the south and Sicily, where the Mafia and its Neapolitan counterpart, the Camorra, hold sway. About 160,000 businesses were targeted throughout the country, according to the Italian retailers association, Confesercenti. Loan sharks took in double that amount: $17.1 billion. From 2004-2006 Mafia loan sharks "foreclosed" on 165,000 businesses nationwide, and nearly 50,000 hotels.

Confesercenti -- quoted in the newspaper Corriere della Sera -- listed the fixed rates for protection. Market stall holders paid $14 per day per stall. Store owners budgeted between $140 and $200 a month (more in Palermo), and building contractors anything up to $17,000 to keep things from going wrong on a construction site. Paradoxically, says the retailers association, the more mobsters the police arrest, the more protection money needs to be raised to cover lawyers' fees. ...

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