Wherever there is misery, there is opportunity for organized crimeIn the dark and dirty alleys of Ballarò, an ancient neighborhood in the heart of the Sicilian capital Palermo, dozens of African drug dealers sit on their scooters, waiting for clients. They smoke and chat to kill time.
They’re young and many of them have crossed the Mediterranean on boats and rafts. Willy, a 29-year-old Nigerian with long rasta-style hair and and disheveled beard, left Nigeria in 2013. He now lives in Ballarò and sells a gram of marijuana for 10 Euros.
“When I arrived in Palermo, in this neighbourhood only Italians were authorised to push,” he says. “Now they’ve also granted us Nigerians permission to sell. It’s worth it for the Sicilians: our money still ends up in the pockets of the mafia boss.”
Willy is one example of how the Sicilian mafia has turned Europe’s refugee crisis to its financial advantage. The Sicilian mafia are making millions from taking advantage of migrants and refugees, organizing their journeys from North Africa to Europe, embezzling funds provided for their welfare in camps in Sicily and then using some of them as prostitutes and drug dealers, police and prosecutors have revealed to TIME.
In 2014, 140,000 migrants arrived in southern Italy including Sicily, according to the E.U. borders agency Frontex. They have yet to publish numbers for 2015. The migrants, many of whom were rescued from boats that sailed from Libya, joined thousands of other migrants in one of six government-funded camps in Sicily including one at Mineo, which accomodates 4,000 migrants. The government provides 40 euros per day for each adult and 80 euros for each child, to provide for shelter, food, education and other upkeep. The budget for Mineo is around 98 milion euros per year.
Carmelo Zuccaro, chief prosecutor in Catania, Sicily’s second-largest city, who is heading the investigation into corruption in Mineo says he believes tenders for services to the camp have been directed to companies controlled by the mafia by corrupt government officials. The mafia-run company than provides far cheaper services than a commercial company would and pockets the difference. The investigation continues.
The suspected embezzlement in the camps was only discovered after prosecutors concluded some of their investigations into the mafia’s role in transporting migrants into Sicily.
Pour lire la suite : http://time.com/4134503/mafia-millions-migrants/