Sicilian ‘Cosa Nostra’ mobsters arrested for COVID exploitation

Sicilian ‘Cosa Nostra’ mobsters arrested for COVID exploitation

Italian officials arrested 16 suspected Cosa Nostra members on Tuesday for using the COVID-19 pandemic to distribute welfare to poor families.  They were also allegedly using violence to solidify their local jurisdiction.

“It wasn’t a good sort of welfare,” said Arturo Guarino, head of Carabinieri police in the Sicilian capital Palermo.

The pandemic has added major ‘insult to injury’ economically for the already-ailing Sicily, where the Cosa Nostra family originates from.

In an effort to increase public loyalty and support, the mob offered much financial assistance to many businesses severely impacted by the 10-week shutdown last year, which left them in their debt.  This was undoubtedly one of highest concerns of police going into the lockdown.

“Families’ needs and a lack of liquidity for businesses in times of COVID-19 represent an opportunity for criminal organisations to gain credibility with the population and exercise mob force,” said Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese.

Police say that a new clan was attempting to gain traction in the Palermo district by organizing food distributions for citizens in need.  They had trouble restraining some of their members when it somehow turned violent.

The 16 arrested men face numerous charges, including association with an organized crime family, attempted murder, and extortion.

“This operation … represents another tough blow against Cosa Nostra, its extortion activities and its infiltration of the local economy,” Lamorgese added.