While the Italian economy slows, organized crime remains lucrative. A recent report by the Eurispes research group estimates that the yearly earnings of ‘Ndrangheta, a widespread organized crime group based in the southern Italian region of Calabria, surpass those of smaller European countries, such as Slovenia and Estonia.
Eurispes projected that the ‘Ndrangheta's moneymaking activities, which range from drugs and extortion to arms trafficking and prostitution, was valued at 44 billion euro last year. Entitled ‘Ndrangheta Holding', the report revealed that the Calabrian mafia's earnings amounted to about 2.9 percent of Italy's gross domestic product in 2007, up 16 percent from 37 billion euro in 2006.
The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy's most powerful organized crime syndicate, recently outstripping the Sicilian Cosa Nostra in the global drug trafficking trade. The report revealed that some 62 percent of illegal revenue was generated from drugs, mostly due to direct ties with Colombian cocaine cartels.
Eurispes president Gian Maria Fara explained, ‘We defined it as a ‘holding company' because the ‘Ndrangheta, more than all other crime organizations, acts in business terms like a company that holds a majority stake in satellite companies, the clans, which nurture it and make up the complex network structure'.
‘Because of its ability to act as a network, it survives and extends its ramifications riding the wave of opportunities offered by a globalised world', he added.