ROME – Organized crime has a seemingly insatiable appetite for farm and food businesses, one of the few economic sectors experiencing growth during Italy's protracted economic crisis.
Anti-mafia prosecutors and Italy's farm lobby Coldiretti say the country's crime syndicates have increased their infiltration or control of agriculture and food markets, ranging from citrus exports to the United States, Italian wholesale produce markets and local supermarket chains.
A report presented Tuesday at Coldiretti's Rome headquarters estimated the overall volume of business in what has been called the "agri-Mafia" interests jumped by 30 percent in 2016, compared to 2015's volume. The report calculated the amount of business at 21.8 billion ($23 billion), stressing the estimate was likely low.
Interior Minister Marco Minniti said the mobsters' interests also reflect Mafia origins in the southern countryside.