”You have to follow the money”

One of the biggest mafia trials in Germany recently took place in Constance, Baden-Württemberg. In an interview, Senior Public Prosecutor Joachim Speiermann explains the story behind it and why the sentence “Mafia? We’re not interested in that” was frequently heard.

Dr. Speiermann, you recently concluded one of the biggest mafia trials in Germany and hardly anyone noticed. How do you feel about it?

Of course, this is also connected with the fact that we live in Coronavirus times. That’s why the last days of the trials were not so heavily attended. After 100 days of hearing, the interest decreases noticeably.

The presiding judge spoke of a “mafia trial that was not a mafia trial” and he also said that he was not interested in whether someone belonged to the mafia, because under German law that was not relevant. Does this mean that German justice is blind to the mafia issue?

I don’t want to say it so directly, but I was a little surprised by that statement myself. The proceedings began thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the American anti-drug agency, that shared some information with the Italian investigators. We were informed of the facts, because some of the people involved lived in our district. In the course of the investigation, we obtained clear evidence that this case had mafia ties. This was also confirmed during the trial by witnesses’ statements. Of course, in Germany, we cannot determine in detail who is a mafia member and who is not, but such a large drug trafficking can only be fully understood if the persons involved are also investigated. And I was somewhat disappointed that this did not happen – one cannot work only on a purely crime-oriented basis. It makes a difference whether there is a Mafia group involved or not. This should have been made clear by the court. What the President said to the chief investigator was revealing: “Please stay on the surface,” said the judge. It seemed that the judge did not want him to give a detailed report to the court. In addition, during the long main hearing the sentence “Mafia, we are not interested in that” was unfortunately repeated several times.

How do you explain this?

This is generally the tendency of courts. It’s easier to stay on the surface. It’s easier to condemn only those who confess and go deeper only if it is really necessary. This trial was not easy at the beginning, with about 20 defenders, attacking on all sides. But I would have liked to see the relations to Italy highlighted. However, the Chamber preferred to judge only drug transactions that had been carried out in Germany and not crimes committed abroad, such as a planned robbery of a jeweller in Verona, which had been prevented by the investigations.

Unfortunately, not a single policeman from Italy was called as a witness, although investigations were being carried out there.

You said that the people behind these drug deals in Italy were from the mafia. Does it make any difference to you, when you have people with such connections in front of you in court?

Sure, it makes a fundamental difference to the sentencing process. Whether it’s a single offender, spontaneous acts or organised crime. If there are references to the Calabrian ‘ndrangheta or the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, then this is a crucial point.

And what about you personally, since they are no good people at all. The mafia organisations have killed many judges and prosecutors just because they were doing their job.

After the group in Germany had difficulties with sales and the money didn’t come in, we heard a telephone conversation during the trial, where they said one should contact the Cupola in Palermo, the highest power centre of the Cosa Nostra.

But you did not think of people like Giovanni Falcone or Paolo Borsellino, who were murdered because of their fight against the Mafia?

No, I didn’t. I’m certainly aware of these acts and I’m impressed. I know how much the Italians respect these colleagues. Colleagues say that those who fight against mafia in Italy work under very different conditions than in our country, even today.

How did you experience the German police? Sometimes one can hear accusations that they do not want to act against the Mafia.

The opposite is true: the team here was probably the key to success. We had a very good police officer, a chief commissioner who was the contact person for Italian organised crime at the Landeskriminalamt (State Criminal Police Office) and who had incredibly good contacts in Italy. We brought him on board, and he established direct contact with investigators in Palermo. Then I met the responsible public prosecutor. That’s the only way the procedure worked. We then agreed on a direct exchange of information between the police forces at an early stage. This saved us the difficult route via Interpol or the police channel. Of course, the use of these informations then proceeded properly within the framework of mutual legal assistance. There were two procedures, so-called mirror procedures: mine in Germany and that of my colleagues in Italy. The respective findings were exchanged on a daily basis and there was always coordination.

 Does this approach also cause problems?

This procedure can already serve as a model. But it is required to have well motivated people in the team. If there are objections from the start, then it doesn’t work. We have a relatively small police headquarters here, the one in Rottweil, but it has already led some fairly large procedures to success. I do not think that there have been similar proceedings, at least not here in Baden-Württemberg. Basically, such procedures should be located at the LKA. After the investigations were completed, the then head of the Rottweil police headquarters presented the work of his team at the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) in a lecture. They were surprised, and the message was that they could not do that at the BKA. But the BKA itself and the State Office of Criminal Investigation (apart from this one police officer) were never on board. The investigations later expanded to the Stuttgart area and to customers in Münster. These proceedings have been handed over to Münster, which worked out very well. There we already had some final convictions. The proceedings in Stuttgart were taken over some time ago. As far as I know, no charges have been brought so far.

I have read that a total of six million euros has been seized.

We approach proceedings differently in Germany than in Italy. Of course, we are also trying to seize assets in Germany. We have made requests for bank information and everything else, but unfortunately, we have not been able to identify and seize as many assets. This is also an advantage of a a pro of the German-Italian mirror procedure: the Italians then seized six apartments and lands as a preventive seizure.

What does that mean, preventive seizure?

If the defendant cannot explain where the capital invested comes from or the origin is dubious, not comprehensible, then assets can be seized in Italy. If someone pays hardly any taxes and then owns assets, then the Italians are relatively quick with preventive seizure. The accused must then prove the proper origin. If he cannot do this, the assets can be confiscated. That’s what happened also in this case. The underlying idea is that the capital can then be used for further crimes.

And that is not possible under German law?

Yes, this idea is now beginning to take effect in German law. Even if proceedings are dropped or someone is acquitted, seized assets can be confiscated if you are convinced that they have not been legally acquired. Under Article 76a of the German Criminal Code, this is now possible. It is a question of the assessment of evidence, and we have the instrument for this.

What lessons have you learned from these proceedings?

A positive lesson for me, the team and the police is that joint action also works across borders if the right people are involved and if people are motivated. That was the rewarding thing. The long duration of the proceedings is exhausting; there have now been more than 100 days of proceedings, and that raises the question of whether this is justified in terms of costs alone. In conclusion, though, I have to say that all the eleven defendants have been convicted; that makes me happy. The amount of the penalty is at the discretion of the court and has not fully convinced me. But it was a success.

Are we in Germany well positioned to deal with the problem of transnational organised crime?

First and foremost, we need motivated police officers and motivated public prosecutors. That is the most important thing. If you approach proceedings with reservations, you won’t get far. Sometimes you must be a bit brave, try new approaches, and then it works. I don’t have a precise overview of the number of proceedings, but it makes me think when you see how few proceedings are conducted in this area in Germany. Especially because it is always said that there are several hundred mafiosi in Germany. And in our case, we have not even established that they are mafiosi.

How did you motivate your policewomen and police officers? Can the public prosecutor’s office contribute to this?

Of course. But we’ve also had two or three big cases before. We were just lucky to have very, very motivated officers in Rottweil.

How did you experience the defendants in the trial? As men in black suits and sunglasses like in mafia movies?

No! They were more respectful to me than the defence attorneys. One of the defendants was a bit egocentric, but they were normal defendants, as you see them again and again.

Do you think that this trial will be noticed by the other side? I heard there was a convicted mafioso in the audience.

To what extent there is interest, I can’t judge, I don’t know. But I’m sure they will have an interest in the outcome of the trial.

One can assume that they will have an interest in the outcome of the trial. But this war on drugs is not very effective, we are seeing a flood of cocaine in Europe.

I do not think that drugs legalisation is the right answer, simply for health reasons. One can see, particularly among young people, what consequences even soft drugs such as marijuana can have. In some cases, the drug causes terrible psychoses. But I admit to you that there is a lot of drug on the market, it is a fight against windmills.

How could we make this fight more successful?

You must follow the road the Italians followed till now – you must follow the money. That is not happening enough in Germany.  In 2017 some laws were changed; it remains to be seen whether they will be implemented. The tools are there, but we must also use them. And that involves a lot of work. You need motivated prosecutors and it takes a lot of time. And we in the public prosecutor’s office are also measured by statistics. Such an Organised Crime procedure requires a lot of time and personnel. In my trial, for example, the main trial alone involved 100 meetings with two people from my department. Unfortunately, we did not get any additional personnel for the proceedings.  According to the personnel requirement calculation system (Pebb§y), such a procedure costed us 2000 minutes – although it is of course an average value! Many simple procedures such as shoplifting bring more personnel for a public authority and this may explain the relatively few Organised Crime Procedures.

And now everything is over?

We have appealed against the last two rulings and we are waiting for the written reasons. The chamber now has about 6 months to draw up the reasons for the judgement. We will then examine it in terms of appeal, to see whether there are any errors in the sentencing or the assessment of evidence.

Was there any contact between you and the defendants afterwards?

In part I also received positive feedback where I would not have expected it. A defendant from Calabria said goodbye personally. He thanked me for the fairness and told me that if I should take a holiday there, in Calabria, I should visit the family. Which of course I refused. The defendants were more respectful than the defence attorneys. The defence lawyers were more the problem of the trial, it was one of their strategies to wear down the court, which partly succeeded.

If you are talking about the defence lawyers, there was a defence lawyer whose first sentence in the trial could basically be understood as a threat to the witnesses. To sum up, he said: “Anyone who keeps his mouth shut will live to be 100 years old”.

Of course, this can be understood in this way, although I don’t know whether the lawyer understood what he was saying at all. Perhaps he just wanted to show off. Whether this was really a threat, I must leave open. But the fact was that at first there was an absolute silence.

Did you have the feeling that you had enough knowledge about Italian organised crime?

I have learned a lot in this trial, I must honestly say. It was my first big mafia-related narcotics case. No, I went into it relatively recently and only started to deal with it when I made contacts in Italy and the investigation was about the subject.

Do you see a need for action there, for example in political terms? Should prosecutors be trained?

Yes. Especially because of the cross-border aspect of the work. We are now on the way there with the European Public Prosecutor and there is Eurojust as the European coordination body for investigations. But appropriate training and conferences on the subject would certainly be good, and young colleagues should be sent to them. The JIT procedure (Justice Investigation Team) with investigation teams in two or more European countries is an important tool. We have also had two such proceedings in our office. Legal assistance is sometimes very, very formal and time-consuming, which deters many colleagues. They say ”oh, legal assistance is difficult”.  That is the reason why so many colleagues fear the involvement of foreign countries. The JIT simplifies this.

I have noticed in conversations with Italian public prosecutors, that they know much more about criminal structures. Why is that so?

Basically, it is much easier in Germany to arrest a criminal with 5 kilos of drugs than to go into depth and identify structures. Structural investigations take time and we are judged by how many cases we make. That is why few developments like these are made in Germany.

How often did you travel to Italy for this investigation?

I was in Sicily three times. The hospitality of my colleagues there was personally enriching. And after seeing how the Italian policemen work, under what conditions and for how little money, our German policemen noticed for the first time how well they are treated here. Moreover, we learn from each other: the Italian investigators, for example, look much more closely at the profits of criminal business than we do in Germany. In our proceedings, six million euros were seized, most of it in Italy.

What is the special appeal of investigations in the drugs and mafia sector?

You have very direct contact with the police, which brings you closer together. And it’s exciting, even if you can see what’s going on thanks to telecommunications surveillance measures. That’s just very, very interesting.

Do you still have contact to Italy now?

I’m retiring now; four police officers from Italy wanted to come to my retirement party. But because of Coronavirus it didn’t work out. I’m still in contact and once I’m in Sicily, I’ll certainly visit the colleagues.

Do you still watch mafia movies now?

(laughs) Rarely. I don’t even turn on ”Tatort”. That has little to do with reality.


Dr. Joachim Speiermann was born in Rendsburg (Schleswig-Holstein) and is married. He joined the judiciary in 1986 and was a judge in various courts until 2002: the Local Court, the Grand Criminal Chamber and the Court of Aldermen in Constance and Singen. From 1993 to 1996 he was a deputy judge at the University of Constance. In 2002 he joined the Constance Public Prosecutor’s Office, first as head of a general department and from 2014 as deputy head of the authorities and head of the OC and narcotics department.

This article was originally published on Cicero Online – Magazin für politische Kultur

Why ‘ndrangheta is a problem for Germany as well

In 1977 Der Spiegel magazine mocked Italy by putting a plate of spaghetti “seasoned” with a gun on the cover of their 31st issue. Almost 45 years later, the problem of organised crime has become global, but many Germans still pretend not to see. This is how the ‘ndrangheta conquered Germany.

“And remember one thing. The world is divided into two: what is Calabria and what will become Calabria”.

These words, taken from a wiretapping between two ‘ndrangheta members, show the willingness to conquer by the most active and dangerous organised crime group in Europe right now. A slow but unstoppable conquest, which began in the distant post-war period, taking advantage of the legal instruments of exchange of labour between the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy. The ‘ndrangheta has, in fact, started a “peppered” conquest, imposed, at first, by migratory flows and, only later, attracted by economic interests. The mafia expansion in Germany has, therefore, a long history which has its roots in the second half of the Fifties of the last century. Despite this, however, public attention and studies on the phenomenon are much more recent. Italian mafia organisations abroad tend to move with caution, making as little noise as possible and staying away from the prying eyes of the public. This “camouflage” makes the work of those who study the phenomenon rather complex and even more difficult is to make civil society aware of the presence of an organisation which is considered non-existent by many and which is in fact invisible to most people, because it works in darkness and silence, exploiting the lack of preparation of the “hosting” countries.

The fall of the wall: new opportunities for the mafiosi

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 opened another fundamental chapter in the history of the expansion of Italian mafia organisations in Germany, and especially for ‘ndrangheta. This event, with the consequent reunification of East and West Germany, opened a new frontier and new spaces for the conquest of the Italian mafias in Europe. Mafias had a fundamental role in the start-up of business activities in the East of the country, essentially for one reason: they controlled a lot of liquidity obtained with drug trafficking and enterprises started in West Germany. In this framework of expansion, it is possible to notice a first great difference with the first flow that brought the ‘ndranghetisti to the western regions of Germany: the Calabrian association already had a logistic base in the country, had activated its supremacy on the drug traffic thanks to a solid network of outposts and it was ready to invest its money in a untouched area. The casual expansion which had characterised the first part of the ‘ndrangheta conquest was replaced by a more prudent strategy.

Structures and hierarchies: the dictates of the homeland.

“The ‘ndrangheta exists, and has certain characteristics, not because its members respect certain rules, but because those subjects recognize themselves in a mafia system, in which the term ‘ndrangheta becomes a criminal brand known in the world, in which you are not free to do what you want: if you do not behave like a ‘ndrangheta member there is someone who calls you to order”.

Said the Deputy Prosecutor of the Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia (DDA) of Reggio Calabria Giuseppe Lombardo during an anti-mafia conference organized by mafianeindanke in 2017 in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Berlin. If Cosa Nostra – perhaps the most famous Italian mafia group from Sicily – abroad tends to shape itself according to the area in which it is located and to separate from the region of origin, the ‘ndrangheta does exactly the opposite: families abroad are and always remain a basic part of the family in Calabria. All the movements, investments and actions which are carried out in the foreign country are agreed upon with the motherland and depend on it, as is demonstrated by the feud of San Luca which, generated in Calabria, sees the trail of blood continue also in Germany with the “Massacre of Duisburg”. There are, therefore, two main goals of the ‘ndrangheta in Germany: the first concerns the international traffic of narcotics along the “Atlantic route”, which starts from the countries of South America and then arrives in Europe through the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Hamburg; the second is the laundering of dirty money through investments principally in restaurants, food distribution and construction sectors. Public Prosecutor Lombardo explains:

“There are some families that have a much greater criminal weight than all the others. Those of the highest rank are the families who decide the strategies: but it would be an error to consider them as the bosses of the ‘ndrangheta. The criminal structure does not depend solely on them, even if it is strongly influenced by them”, continues Lombardo: “the vertical structure that ‘ndrangheta has could make one think that today, the ‘ndrangheta, has a command group, a leader, which determines its existence. It is not that simple. The ‘ndrangheta is provided with a very sophisticated chain of command. There are three main orders, the historical ones, on which also the foreign articulations depend on: the Ionico Order, that of the city of San Luca, the “mamma” (“mum” Tn); the “Tirrenico Order”, the one of the cities of Palmi, Gioia Tauro and Rosarno; the “Centro Order”, the one of the city of Reggio Calabria. Imagine these three areas of Calabria: it is from here that the commands for the joints of ‘ndrangheta in the world start”.

Germany as fertile ground

The ‘ndrangheta is known, more than other mafia organisations, for its hunger for conquest, which took it first to the regions of Northern Italy and then to Germany. It uses the same mechanisms of penetration and the same mentality, not distorting its own character of family organisation which is based on blood ties also outside Calabria.

“The real problem revolves around the knowledge of the phenomenon, the concept of organised crime: we should talk a common language, especially at the European level, but this is not the case. The mafia-type criminal phenomenon in the Italian legal system is extremely evolved and complicated to explain, it is a system which, unfortunately, has refined its strategies through difficult and significant passages linked to massacres, murders, military type attacks which the Italian State has suffered for a long time,” explains PM Lombardo.

In Germany, as it is well known, there is no such thing as the crime for being a mafioso. The ‘ndrangheta has exploited the weaknesses of German legislation, moving undisturbed in the German social and economic fabric. If something does not change quickly, the Calabrian organisation will be able to benefit greatly and expand further. The German legislation also lacks laws regarding the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets: if a mafioso manages to live with the prospect of detention or being on the run, targeting his wealth and power means making him unarmed and this certainly frightens him.

From “Operazione Stige” to JIT Pollino: future scenarios

“It must be clearly stated that mafias are such not only when they commit evident crimes, when they acquire the control of economic activities; mafias are not only those who make unjust profits or advantages. Today, any behaviour that profoundly interferes with the life of each one of us is mafia. The mafia of the Third Millennium is this and is not always recognised by the naked eye. Not everything is mafia, but what is mafia today, all together, in Italy and abroad, we must be able to understand it immediately, without making useless turns of phrase”.

Lombardo’s opinion opens to new considerations: the anti-mafia investigative activity in Europe and Germany is making important steps forward. We must remember above all “Operation Stige” from 2016, which led to the arrest of a large number of people between Italy and Germany, and “Operation Pollino”, which saw for the first time the creation of a “Joint Investigation Team”, between the investigative forces of Italy, Germany and The Netherlands (here’s our article about the matter). There is also the positive example of Berlin that is starting to use the instrument of seizure of assets against the Clan-Kriminalität (here’s our analysis).

Recognizing the mafias, especially for a German, is very difficult. It is a phenomenon that is still surrounded by an aura of mystery dictated by the myth of the “Godfather” and folklore. This phenomenon must be studied in depth and known in Germany as well as throughout Europe: only in this way will we be able to effectively battle organised crime.

The German perspective 12 years after the Duisburg massacre

Exactly 12 years ago, on 15th August 2007, the Duisburg massacre shook Germany and turned the spotlight on the ‘ndrangheta, a criminal organization which, until then, had been particularly silent outside its own territories of origin.

On the night of August 15, 2007, six men between the ages of 16 and 39 lost their lives, all originating in the province of Reggio Calabria, except for Tommaso Venturi, originally from Corigliano Calabro, who was turning 18 years old on that day. The victims were hit by two killers at the exit of the Italian restaurant ”Da Bruno”, where they had spent the evening to celebrate the birthday of the friend. The renowned restaurant in the town in North Rhine-Westphalia was already known to the Italian and German police as a place of money laundering. The killers, to ensure the success of the ambush, cooled each of their victims with a final blow to the head. The burnt image of St. Michael the Archangel was found in the clothes of the celebrant, a sign of a possible affiliation to the clan celebrated just that evening.

The Duisburg massacre, also known as the Ferragosto massacre, is the last episode of the bloody feud of San Luca, which began in 1991 and which saw the Nirta-Strangio oppose the Pelle-Vottari-Romeo. The feud, which apparently began for futile reasons, has seen a series of settlements of accounts, often perpetrated in days significant from the symbolic and religious point of view. The aim of hitting one’s enemies during the festivities is to make the pain of the victim’s relatives even deeper, so that one day of celebration becomes a day of mourning forever.

According to this scheme, the clash between the warring factions was re-ignited by the murder of Maria Strangio, wife of the boss Giovanni Nirta, which took place in San Luca on 25 December 2006, in an ambush whose main objective was the Calabrian boss. The weapons used on that occasion came from Duisburg.

It is in this framework that the decision of the Nirta-Strangio to attack their rivals even abroad, in Germany, more than 2000 km away from San Luca (RC), is to be traced back, running the enormous risk of attracting the attention of the forces of law and order and public opinion to themselves, unexpectedly defeating the strategy of camouflage which had had been enormously successful, allowing the ‘ndrangheta to take root and reproduce its own organizational model also abroad. Behind the attack of Duisburg, however, there was not only a thirst for revenge. There was also the will to reaffirm one’s own criminal power and to obtain control of the illicit traffics in the region. Drug trafficking generated enormous profits and the region of North Rhine-Westphalia was a strategic junction, given its proximity to the border with Holland, where drug shipments from South America arrived at its ports. Over the years, the Calabrian clans have carried out a real territorial division of the German Land. The Nirta-Strangio, for example, control the Kaarst area, while the Pelle-Vottari-Romeo extend their dominion over the Duisburg area. In this case, the Rhine River separates the respective areas of influence of the rival clans.

Germany is the European country where the ‘ndrangheta has managed to penetrate more effectively, despite the apparent cultural incompatibility. The massacre of Ferragosto showed all the ease of action and confidence of the criminal organization of Calabrian origin that is, one step at a time, colonizing the German territory. This episode, however, has revealed to the whole world the ferocious and criminal nature of the ‘ndrangheta. The excessive exposure has undoubtedly had negative effects for the organization, at least in the immediate future.

The German public opinion, in fact, has finally realized its existence. The Italian and German investigative authorities have developed a fruitful relationship of collaboration which has led, in the period following the massacre, to the capture and arrest of numerous affiliates involved in the feud of San Luca.

On the one hand, there were already several signs that indicated a strong penetration of the ‘ndrangheta in Germany. On the other hand, however, they were long underestimated and only the shock caused by the Duisburg massacre opened the eyes of public opinion and institutions. However, the initial astonishment soon made room for ‘removal’ by German society. The image of Duisburg – and of the whole of Germany – could not be polluted by the presence of the mafia. The negative image had to be erased and the episode forgotten. Once the trial for the facts of Duisburg was transferred to Italy, for Germany the case was to be considered closed. The matter was considered a business between Calabrians, a problem of Italy. This removal greatly facilitated the ‘ndrangheta, who returned to silence and became peaceful internally. Too much exposure had been a mistake and it was now necessary to give priority to business rather than internal disputes. What is striking about the ‘ndrangheta and which can also be seen by analysing the facts of Duisburg is its dual nature: on the one hand, it is a modern organisation, it takes advantage of the opportunities offered by globalization and is oriented towards profit; on the other hand, it maintains its own ancestral customs, its ties with the motherland and its rituals.

In addition to the removal by society, the ‘ndrangheta can also exploit to its own advantage the shortcomings of the German legislation, which is very weak in terms of the fight against the mafias. In Germany, for example, there is no crime of mafia association, as provided for within the Italian legal system (416 bis). The German legislation, in fact, specifies only the criminal association, through Article 129 of the Criminal Code. There is also a lack of legislation on the seizure and confiscation of property. Following the Second World War, in stark contrast to the totalitarian regime of the past, Germany adopted legislation that was strongly geared to protecting the individual. For this reason, everything that concerns the confiscation of personal property and property is very difficult to implement. German law, while in some cases providing for the possibility of seizure and confiscation of property, does not allow this to happen in a preventive manner and provides that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. All this represents an enormous limitation in the fight against the mafias. If there were greater awareness of the seriousness of the risk faced by society, these obstacles could be overcome.

The ‘ndrangheta is aware of these limits, knows that it is unlikely that Germany will adopt more effective measures in matters of confiscation of goods and therefore transforms the country into one of the main centers in which to launder the proceeds of illicit trafficking.

It is also difficult to talk about the mafia in Germany. Journalists often find themselves fighting against legislation which, in view of the extreme protection of the individual mentioned above, does not allow them to write freely about the subject. Journalists are sometimes silenced through censorship. This is the case, for example, of Petra Reski, a German investigative journalist who, after having received several complaints, has been blackened by the authorities with her book “Santa Mafia” (original title: Mafia. Von Paten, Pizzerien und falschen Priestern). Given the absence of the crime of mafia association in Germany, it is not possible to attribute links with the mafia to persons who have not already been convicted in Italy for 416 bis. There is also the right to social rehabilitation, so you cannot appoint in full (name and surname) convicted persons who have already served their sentence. Their history can be told, but people can only be named using abbreviations. The mafia in Germany can therefore make use of the lawsuit, which is much more convenient and less risky than threats and intimidation, with ample chance of success. To be the victim of these dynamics was also a documentary broadcast by the television station MDR, which focused on the economic activities of ‘ndrangheta in Erfurt, a town in Turinga that represents a real Eden for the money laundering by the criminal organization of Calabria. After having suffered a series of complaints, the documentary was also censored. Life for investigative journalists in Germany is therefore particularly difficult, there are disincentives to write about the mafia and often the publishers themselves are not willing to run the risk of publishing news on the subject to avoid running into legal trouble.

Twelve years after the events in Duisburg, the situation regarding the fight against the mafias in Germany is not the rosiest. There are many issues on which we should work and insist. First, there is a need for greater awareness of the danger of the mafia phenomenon and the risks it represents for society. Secondly, despite the presence of virtuous experiences dedicated to raising awareness on the subject, there is a need to build larger networks, which also extend to places – such as East Germany – where now there are no active realities on the anti-mafia front. There is also a need to offer more free information on the subject and of greater quality, where the fight against stereotypes of the mafias is another important issue. Finally, as we have seen in the section on this subject, it is essential to adopt legislative instruments to combat this phenomenon, which are appropriate to the scale of the phenomenon we intend to combat.

Expansion of the Russian mafia on the German territory

As reported this month, Russian mafia is gaining power in Germany. Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) estimates that up to 40 000 individuals who live in Germany may be connected to Russian organized crime groups. It should be kept in mind that these numbers come only from reported offenses, which means that, in reality, more men can be involved in the movement.