The mafia charges monthly protection money even from traveling street vendors, like this guy who sells produce from his three-wheeled truck. The first thug came to collect his 100 euros. A second thug comes by and wants even more. The carabinieri filmed it all, the fruttivendolo was obviously miked, and they arrested both men. The collectors don't get to keep the money. They give it to their boss; they are just doing the dirty work. The money lines pockets, help pay the pensions of mafia widows and support the families of mafiosi in jail. But mostly it is used as way to assert ownership over a neighborhood, a tax on a clan's subjects, a show of power.
Funny thing is, when you pay the pizzo, the protection money, they are supposed to protect you even from rival clans looking for their own protection money. This poor schmuk had been paying two rival clans, which might be why he decided to cooperate with police. But now the greengrocer's life is in danger from TWO rival mafia clans. He will probably get ulcers from living in fear. I hope he is getting help from te non profit association Addio Pizzo ( Goodbye Protection Money) and if he decides to testify in court against his extortionists, there is a non profit in Palermo called Libero Futuro which will provide him with a pro bono lawyer expert in such cases and will guide him through every step, and introduce him to people like himself who have done the same. Still, they have to be very brave.