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Italian mafia quadruples presence in Germany over less than decade

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Italian mafia quadruples presence in Germany over less than decade
Police stand guard at the site of a mafia shoot-out in Duisburg in 2007. Photo: DPA
09:34 CEST+02:00
German intelligence agencies believe that the Italian mafia have clearly increased their presence in the Bundesrepublik since 2008.

Whereas the intelligence agencies reported that 136 members of Italian criminal organizations were operating in Germany in 2008, that number almost quadrupled to 562 in June 2017, Spiegel reported on Tuesday based on government figures.

Two mafia organizations have grown particularly rapidly. The Sicilian Cosa Nostra increased its size by 520 percent to a current level of 124 members, while the 'Nrdangheta from Calabria has established itself as the largest mafia organization, with 333 members, an increase of 455 percent.

Mafia activities in Germany first came to the public's attention in 2007 when a shoot out between two mafia groups in front of an Italian restaurant in Duisburg left six people dead.

“Ten years after the murders in Duisburg we are seeing that all the relevant Italian mafia groups are active in Germany and that the number of alleged members has risen drastically,” said Irene Mihalic, interior affairs spokeswoman for the Green party. “This development makes clear just how necessary it is to step up the fight against organized criminality.”

The government also made clear that the actual size of the mafia could be much higher. Its figures only represent criminal structures which the intelligence services have been able to confirm exist. But these “give no substantiated estimate as to the size of the unknown mafia structures,” the government states.

Police success in clamping down on the mafia has been limited over the past decade, according to Spiegel. While German authorities have seized €5.6 million of assets from the mafia over this time period, a government study estimates that organized criminals invest €100 billion in Germany every year.

The number of investigations of mafia groups has also been small when compared to how often the state goes after jihadists. Over the past 10 years, 102 investigations have been opened against Italian mafia groups, a number dwarfed by the 900 investigations of jihadists that are expected to take place in 2017 alone.

“The low number of investigations into the Italian mafia can be taken as an indication that there are not enough detectives available to investigate organized criminality,” said Mihalic. “That would be an error which we need to decisively act against.”

SEE ALSO: 'The mafia are invisible but almost everywhere in Germany', experts say

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