Newsroom Updates

CORRECTIV starts blog on mafia

von David Schraven

Our next mono-thematic blog starts today: a mafia blog. We want to monitor the activities of organized crime in Italy and document the fight against syndicates. The blog is in Italian and German language.

The mafia has advanced into large parts of the German, Italian, and European economy. Billions are earned through drug smuggling, human trafficking, and money laundering. Our welfare suffers under the direct consequences of these criminal practices, just as entire industries are corrupted by the mafia.

According to renowned investigators, serious business dealings in the building industry are no longer possible without involving organized gangs. The mafia is everywhere. It supplies legions of illegal workers, organizes illegal payoffs and cash flows. In cooperation with the WDR, Spiegel, and Funke Mediengruppe, I was part of a project that documented the influence of the mafia in West Germany — specifically in Cologne and the Ruhr region — as well as Baden-Württemberg.

We want to go beyond episodic reporting. We want to help educate the public about the dangers of the mafia and make sure that its members are perceived as the criminals they are. To date members of the mafia can secretly meet in Germany without fearing any noteworthy prosecution. Membership in the mafia can hardly be prosecuted — as long as the mafia isn’t officially registered as an association. This has to change. Membership in the mafia has to be penalized here in a similar fashion as in Italy.

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But this isn’t enough. We want to make sure that the onus of proof is reversed for mafia offenses. Just as in Italy, mobsters in Germany should have to prove that their assets were acquired legally — from taxed earnings — if they want to retain them after prosecution. The mafia will only lose its power if it is stripped of its illegal earnings.

We know that changing laws takes time. That’s why we’re in it for the long run. We want to report as much as possible about the mafia.

This project is the result of a strategic partnership with Cecilia Anesi and Giulio Rubino from the Investigative Reporting Project Italy. Lena Niethammer is
responsible from our side.

Together, we hope to change some things.