10:27 GMT +323 September 2019
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    A farmer picks grapes for harvest in the Villa Germaine vineyards of Ariccia, on the outskirts of Rome, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012

    Italian Mobsters Have 'Total Stranglehold' on Country's Agriculture

    © AP Photo / Gregorio Borgia
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    Italy's agricultural association found that the Italian mafia has infiltrated agriculture operations in 98 of the country's 102 provinces.

    "They are creating a crisis for the image of Italian food in the world, they are putting the health of consumers at risk and putting our environment at risk <…> Above all they are suffocating the business and economic fabric of many honest companies that are being jeopardised by this criminal activity," head of Coldiretti, a think tank dedicated to studying mafia influence in agriculture, Roberto Moncalvo said, according to Reuters.

    The gangs were most powerful in Italy's Sicilian provinces, where they traditionally held the most influence, but also had considerable reach in the north of the country.

    The gangsters also made counterfeit products, such as virgin olive oil and mozzarella cheese. They also influenced sales and distribution, and stole entire herds of animals and farm harvests, according to Coldiretti.

    Italy's economic downturn has only worsened the situation, according to the organization, as investors began putting money in illegal operations over legal ones because of higher returns.

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    Tags:
    theft, agriculture, mafia, Sicily, Italy
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