Italy’s ambitious organized crime syndicates are still killing people and trafficking drugs and weapons, but their latest bet is eco-friendly businesses.
MORE FROM QUARTZ:
China Has Already Spent $156 Billion Bailing Out Its Banking System
Coca Cola Blames the Rain For Its Less-Than-Stellar Second Quarter Results
European Car Sales Are Back to 1996 Levels. Thanks Austerity
The cash-heavy groups are tapping into corporate cost-cutting in Europe’s crisis-torn economy, including the often exorbitant expenses required to properly dispose of waste, according to a recent report by European law enforcement agency Europol. The Italian mafia is famous for its forays into waste management, but thanks to shrinking budgets and tightening environmental regulations in Europe, illegal dumping and waste trafficking are booming under the guise of eco-friendly trash disposal. They’re high-return low-risk endeavors that are rarely prosecuted, Europol says.
The Italian mafia is exploiting other green markets, too. In 2010, Italian authorities seized $1.9 billion US from Vito Nicastri, known as Sicily’s “Lord of the Wind,” and his alleged mafia associates, saying they illegally profited from wind farms and other government-subsidized alternative energy companies. Since then, Italian officials have been investigating so many suspected “clean energy” rackets that experts fear the related tax evasion and corruption is undermining Italy’s economy.