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Money and wars go hand in hand, especially when it comes to mafia. Behind the explosion of conflict between gangs, there is always a group that suddenly becomes more powerful or an unexpected opportunity to extend the market for drug dealing and the relative incomes. But if the mechanism fails, if the money resources of the bosses are drained, the yoke gets tighter around the others: honest citizens, small businessmen, and even pushers who work for the godparents themselves. Thus, return is made to the old good source of : protection money. The last survey conducted by the Naples’ DDA on the casalesi clan, whose resources were cut to the bone by the Antimafia, has documented a new boom of this kind of criminal activity. Not only merchants and traders, who are forced to choose between paying and suffering material and persona damage, but also dealers and pine cones pickers become victims of extortion. People whom an absent State leaves in the hands of the camorra: a slap in the face of legality. Nine people have ended up handcuffed as a result of an order given by the investigative magistrate Peter Carola. Among them there were also the heads of the group: Dionigi Pacifico, 53, a relative of the De Falco family, and Gaetano Cerci, 50, who a few years ago was the main point of reference in the lucrative sector of illegal waste disposal, a kind of “vice” who remained very close to the “king of ecomafia” Cipriano Chianese.

During the last few days, the headquarters of the dismantled group had not been in Casal di Principe nor on the Domizio littoral – yet another sign of the changing times – but in San Nicola la Strada, a town near Caserta. And this is where the racketeers departed from, the final destination being Castel Volturno on the Domizio littoral: protection money ranged from 500 to 1000 euros and customarily had to be paid by three deadlines which coincided with Christmas, Easter, and August. 350 euro, on the other hand, was the weekly ‘contribution’ the pusher Fulvio Blade, on whom investigation was carried out as well, had to deliver to the emissaries of the clan. At the core of this investigation were rather recent events, that happened until Christmas 2013. Among the businessmen who were victims  of the racketeers and none of whom dared to denounce – too much fear – there are dairy and bar owners. Three of the suspects are charged also with theft, due to a raid made on a well-known clothing store in Caserta during which were taken away the till and several items of clothing. In the ordinance signed by the investigative magistrate is mentioned also “debt recovery activity” of which are suspected some of the arrested. A victim of this kind of activity seems to be a military man who had contracted game debts with the manager of a betting room in San Nicola la Strada.

Yet, the economic crisis, that is affecting some clans, does not damage the “System” as a whole. In fact, in Naples they continue to shoot and kill, as proves the dramatic escalation of murders recorded these days.The latest DIA report has surveyed more than one hundred gangs in Campania, 51 of which in the Parthenopean capital alone. From this analysis emerges a pulverization of the clans and of their decision-making centres. In a nutshell: the old, monolithic families split into a thousand little formations, that currently act without a following a guideline imposed from above. They have become loose cannons ready to explode at any time and make victims among innocent citizens.

Hence, even when it is going through an economic and structural crisis, the underworld continues to be frightening. This is true for Italy as for the rest of the world, were are lurking organizations, that are equally lethal. It is the case of Japan, where the authorities keep under control the terrifying “yakuza” which is on the point of unleashing a mafia war. A scenario Japan has rarely faced before and risks to be caught unprepared. A few days ago, during a spectacular Kobo police action, has been thoroughly searched the headquarters of Yamaken-gumi (Yamaken clan), the main group that came out of the great mafia conglomerate Yamaguchi-gumi. Besides investigating on the case on credit cards trafficking, the agents were looking for information and evidence about the new organization – Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi – born from the splitting up of the main group, whose boss is Yamaken, Kunio Inoue. The division took origin from the expulsion of 13 bosses (out of 72) at the end of August. The measure should be considered against the background of a general crisis of the great criminal group – the Japanese prefer to use the word “boryokudan” rather than “yakuza” – due to the weak performance of the Japanese economy in general – in every ganglion into which the mafia has been able to infiltrate – both a more decisive antimafia action at the hands of the Tokyo governmen and on an international level.

It seems, besides, that the separation is connected also to the suspicion that Shinobu Tsukasa – the 73-year-old head of the heads of Yamaguchi – wants to strengthen his clan of origin, the Kodo-kai in Nagoya, at the expense of the others. This has led Yamaken, together with the Takumi-gumi in Osaka and Kyoyu-kai of Awaji to form a new organization, that should count around 3,000  affiliates, compared to the 23,000 of the Yamaguchi and the almost 60,000 affiliates of all the officially recognized “yakuza” groups put together. The “boryokudan” groups arise mainly from gambling industry management, to which they still owe a part of their wealth and to which they have added also legal business, prostitution, trafficking, and construction. All this happens with the connivance of some politicians. It is precisely emphasis on business that makes the wars between mafia groups extremely rare. An unexpected metamorphosis, that keeps people awake at night both in Tokyo and in Naples. After all, it is when the snake moults its skin that it becomes more dangerous.

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