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mafia profits from immigrants' suffering

From the New York Times:
ISOLA DI CAPO RIZZUTO, Italy — The government provided millions of euros to care for the migrants who had arrived at the reception center at Italy’s toe after traveling across deserts, war zones or choppy seas. But on many days, they were served little more than rancid chicken. Some did not eat at all when the food ran out.

At the same time, the priest who founded the local branch of the charity managing the center was spending money on expensive hotels and restaurants, splurging on fine wines and stashing thousands of euros in three safes at home, the authorities say. His business partners — mobsters and their associates — outfitted their bathtubs with golden taps. Some hid thousands of euros in vacuum-sealed plastic bags tucked in their fireplaces.

The center’s managers, including the Rev. Edoardo Scordio, were among 68 people arrested this spring on charges of fraud, misuse of public money and mafia association. A yearslong investigation exposed a vast embezzlement scheme that, the authorities say, siphoned off nearly 36 million euros, or about $41 million, in government money — more than a third of the €102 million provided over a decade.

The case in Calabria may be just the most glaring example of how the misery of others has provided ripe opportunity for mobsters and corrupt officials as Italy struggles to keep up with an unceasing flow of migrants and refugees — more than 83,000 so far this year alone.

The swelling of the migrant population, investigators say, has made the running of reception centers a cottage industry of potential government corruption and mafia penetration.

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