From "The Guardian":
As Italy struggles to pull its economy through the coronavirus crisis, the Mafia is gaining local support by distributing free food to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash, authorities have warned.
In recent weeks, videos have surfaced of known Mafia gangs delivering essential goods to Italians hit hard by the coronavirus emergency across the poorest southern regions of Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia, as tensions are rising across the country.
"For over a month, shops, cafés, restaurants, and pubs have been closed", Nicola Gratteri, antimafia investigator and head of the prosecutor's office in Catanzaro, told the Guardian. "Millions of people work in the grey economy, which means that they haven't received any income in more than a month and have no idea when they might return to work. The government is issuing so-called shopping vouchers to support people. If the state doesn't step in soon to help these families, the mafia will provide its services, imposing their control over people's lives."...
From the first signals of mounting social unrest, the Italian minister of the interior, , said ''the mafia could take advantage of the rising poverty, swooping in to recruit people to its organisation''. Or simply stepping in to distribute free food parcels of pasta, water, flour and milk.Read more
In recent days, the police in Naples have intensified their presence in the poorest quarters of the city, where men tied to the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia, have organised home delivery of food parcels. Magistrates have already begun an investigation against a group of people who were questioned while distributing food to local residents.
In Palermo, according to La Repubblica, the brother of a Cosa Nostra boss allegedly distributed food to the poor in the Zen neighbourhood, an area with an established mafia presence. When the news broke, the man defended himself on Facebook, claiming that he was only doing charitable work and attacking the journalist who first reported the news.
"Mafias are not just criminal organisations,'' Federico Varese, professor of criminology at the University of Oxfordsaid. "They are organisations that aspire to govern territories and markets. Commentators often focus on the financial aspect of mafias but they tend to forget that their strength comes from having a local base from which to operate."
The question of distributing food parcels is a tactic as old as the mafia itself, where in the south of Italy bosses have customarily presented themselves to the people as benefactors and local power brokers, initially without asking for anything in return.