The Mafia originated in Sicily, in the very south of Italy, around the 1860s and 1870s. Its sphere of activity was initially limited to this region. The Mafia were secret societies organized according to families, with a strict hierarchy and their own rules.
For example, ancient rules still in force today are the vow of silence: anyone who has ever become a member of the Mafia may not reveal any internals. In addition, once a member, you are a mafioso for life (or mafiosa, meanwhile women can also take on important roles).
An exit is not planned.
Different organisations have developed in the different regions, which differ slightly in their structures, but are similar in their criminal activities, the urge to expand and the pseudo-religious superstructure.
In addition to the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, there is the Camorra in Naples and the surrounding area, the Calabrian ‘ndrangheta and the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita.
All organizations are divided into clans, i.e. into family ties, whereby the understanding of family is often very broad in the meantime. The ‘ndrangheta, for example, now also accepts foreigners.
All organizations are offshoots abroad. These offshoots serve not only as a retreat for persecuted members, but also as a basis for operational activities, whether legal or illegal.
Classic business areas of the mafia groups are protection money extortion, arms trafficking, drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, dealing with counterfeit products and their manufacture, the disposal of waste, even highly toxic substances.
However, the organisations also adapt very quickly to new developments and expand into business areas that emerged only a few years ago, such as renewable energies.
In addition, they are involved in the capital market and are also present on the real estate market, partly through complicated financial market instruments such as investment funds.