Italy’s coronavirus lockdown is proving that the Mafia still runs the show there, according to a new report.
Earlier this month, the notorious organized crime group held a funeral procession for a 70-year-old scion of one of the most notorious Mafia families in the Sicilian town of Messina — even though funerals have been banned in the country since early March to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, CNN reported.
The procession was a “real scandal, an insult to those who lost their relatives in the pandemic,” Claudio Fava, president of the regional anti-Mafia committee, told the network.
In one Palermo district, a local Mafia boss tried to organize a Good Friday church service in defiance of the lockdown but was thwarted by police.
In southern Italy, Mafia clans are taking advantage of the pandemic by providing everyday necessities to residents of poor neighborhoods — and offering credit to businesses that are near bankruptcy, the outlet reported.
Anti-Mafia groups like SOS Impresa told CNN that the outbreak turned the crime group into Italy’s largest bank.
Liquidity will become “the center of everything” in the wake of the crisis, according to journalist and author Roberto Saviano, who has written about a Naples-based organized crime group.
“The organization will come to a company in crisis and say: ‘We don’t buy everything, but we will give you cash in exchange for shares — to become part of your company,’” Saviano told the network. “This is what they will do with everyone.”
La Cosa Nostra will also try to hire the “new unemployed” as its foot soldiers during the crisis, Saviano added.
The most powerful branch of the Mafia, the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta, is thought to control 80 percent of the European cocaine market.
“The traffickers took advantage of the [lack of] oversight of law enforcement in the ports, in the airports” during the lockdown, he said. “Who was checking anymore?”
The Mafia already has roots in parts of the economy “that have not been blocked by the restrictions of COVID-19: the agriculture-food chain, the supply of medicines and medical equipment, road transport,” Franco Gabrielli, head of the Italian police, told the outlet.
“Funeral homes they invest in, hospital laundries,” added Saviano. “Cleaning companies they’ve always invested in. Good delivery companies, gas stations, this is the portfolio they’ve had for the past 10 years.”
By Monday, a total of 178,972 coronavirus cases had been reported in Italy, the third-hardest-hit country next to the US and Spain, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The country has seen the highest death toll, with 23,660 people there succumbing to the virus since the start of the outbreak.
But the country saw its lowest daily coronavirus death toll in a week on Sunday.
The powerful organization has a foothold outside Italy, too, Saviano warned.
“The Mafia is very powerful also in Germany,” he said. “They shoot less, but they are very powerful.”
The mob isn’t faring so well in New York, where its main sources of income — illegal sports gambling and restaurant extortion — have dried up amid a freeze on public activity, law enforcement sources have told The Post.
Pope Francis prayed earlier this month for “people who during this time of the pandemic, trade at the expense of the needy and profit from the needs of others, like the Mafia, usurers and others,” according to CNN.
“May the Lord touch their hearts and convert them,” the pontiff added.