After years of authorities ignoring the seriousness of their criminal activities, the “Fourth Mafia” is stirring terror in the southern Italian region of Puglia.
In a report published by the Swiss newspaper “Lotan” Le Temps, the writer Antonino Galovaro says that a number of shops in the cities of Foggia and San Severo in the Puglia region were attacked with 9 bombs at the beginning of this year, against the background of arrests among a number of local mafias.
According to the writer, what is known as the “Fourth Mafia” (La quarta mafia) has become the headlines in Italian newspapers and media, only to discover that the Italians “discover a new octopus whose legs have been strangling Foggia in secrecy for three decades.”
The writer explains that the Puglia mafia was called the “Fourth Mafia”, because it appeared after the three most famous criminal organizations in Italian history, which are the “Cosa Nostra” mafia in Sicily, the ‘Ndrangheta mafia in Calabria, and the Camorra mafia in Naples.
The “Fourth Mafia” consists of 3 sub-mafias, but it did not receive – according to the author – sufficient attention from the authorities during the past years, despite its danger, as evidenced by the failure to open a branch of the Anti-Mafia Investigation Department in the region until early 2020.
Antonio Laronga, Deputy Prosecutor General of Foggia asserts that these organizations “were classified as gangs of delinquents, killing each other to control illegal activities, but not endangering the economic and administrative life of the territory.”
How did the mafia appear in Puglia?
Larunga explains why the authorities were not interested in the activities of the mafia in Puglia during the last period, stressing that understanding the phenomenon requires a return to the history of mafias in the neighboring regions, specifically in the seventies of the last century when the conflict erupted between two Camorra mafia gangs in Naples.
Because of the repeated confrontations inside the prison, members of one of the two gangs were transferred to Puglia, and this was, according to him, a “strategic mistake”, because they supervised the training of the new prisoners in the area to become gang members.
Larunga adds that these petty criminals later decided to separate from the Camorra mafia and form new mafia gangs in Foggia and Cherniola, and in the meantime a third mafia arose after a guerrilla war in the Gargano mountains. The three organizations were classified as mafias with final rulings issued between 1999 and 2009.
After 25 years of working to combat criminal organizations in the region, Laronga is still convinced of the possibility of “overcoming these gangs”, and says that the battle against them is security and cultural, so he visits schools to raise awareness among young people, and last year he published a book entitled ” Fourth Mafia.
Rocco Sharoni, a professor of sociology specializing in the study of the mafia at the University of Turin, believes that the state contributes in part to the mafia industry because of “tolerance of activities and behaviors that enjoy a degree of social legitimacy, such as the black market and tax evasion. In Italy there is a significant lack of laws regulating the relationship between public life and economic activities.