Transnational mafias are a growing danger.

Vincenzo Musacchio is a professor of criminal law. Associated at Rutgers Institute on Anti-Corruption Studies (RIACS) in Newark (USA). Researcher at the High School of Strategic Studies on Organized Crime of the Royal United Services Institute in London. Disciple of Giuliano Vassalli, pupil and friend of Antonino Caponnetto. He is one of the leading experts and researchers of organized crime and with him we dialog the issue of the transnationality of modern mafias.

Interview n ° 2 of the students of the Rutgers Institute on Anti-Corruption Studies in Newark (USA).

Professor Musacchio, why is investigative and judicial cooperation on a global level important to tackle the most recent organized crime?

Contemporary mafias in all their manifestations are now a transnational phenomenon. It is impossible to isolate Mafia criminal activities only in a specific territory. To understand the new organized crime, is necessary to have a complete picture that cannot fail to foresee the links and connections on a global level. The mafia criminal networks now all operate beyond the borders and must therefore be studied and fought worldwide. It is essential to reinvigorate investigative and judicial cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime and Italy in terms of experience has a lot to offer both at European and international level. It would also be desirable to create a global platform for the exchange of research and study experiences on the prevention and fight against organized crime.

Why is it so important to fight organized crime in the international contest?

The new mafias have become as powerful as national governments in many parts of the world. They have criminal contacts at every level, so they have become entities to be studied at a geopolitical level. These criminal networks are powerful and established organizations, similar to a multinational, capable of influencing the way countries interact with each other. In Italy, we are seeing how mafias use the proceeds of their crimes to expand into many legitimate businesses. Undoubtedly, today’s organized crime constitutes a real factor of power and conditioning in the global political, social and economic environment.

In general, what lessons do you think can be drawn from the analysis of organized crime in Italy?

The main lesson we can learn from the experience of Italy is that solid foundations are needed to combat crime. The mafias are constantly evolving and tend to take over weakened institutions to continue to fortify themselves. After the deaths of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, the Italian government has no longer paid enough attention to building solid anti-mafia institutions and the result is what we are seeing today: the fight against the mafias at stake. I believe it is time to strengthen our institutions and not just at the national level. It will take a long time, but hope is always the last to die. The lesson of the maxi-trial of the Sicilian mafia came at the very high price of many human lives but still today it remains the symbol of how it is possible to fight and defeat the mafia.

How do you see the future evolution of the fight against the mafia in Italy?

Everything will depend on the evolution of the government in office (but also of the next one) which so far does not seem to me to have done much in terms of fighting the mafia. Italian organized crime has gone from a predatory and massacre phase to a parasitic and corrupt one. It is a fact that criminal networks have penetrated the vital ganglia of the State. In some parts of the country they even control parts of central and local institutions. For the Italian government, the real challenge should be to reverse this situation. However, if the government invested in building healthy public institutions, we could begin to see first results even in the short term. The new mafias are now integrated into society, politics and the economy. They invest in legal businesses but use illegal methods to compete in the markets. Mafia organizations, especially in a period of crisis like this we are going through, have the opportunity to become more powerful than ever. To prevent this from happening, the main objective should be to fully restore the rule of law and for this we will need strong and credible institutions.

What can civil society do in the fight against the mafias?

The optimum would be achieved when the community collaborates with the investigative and judicial authorities. For this to happen, however, the state must be reliable and trustworthy on the part of the citizen. The solution to the dilemma lies in the community itself. We need the full cooperation of civil society to tackle organized crime. As long as the company cannot trust its institutions, the fight against the mafias will always be uphill. This is why I believe it is urgent and important to start building strong and above all credible institutions.

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