For years Italians had assumed that although Sicily and much of the south were prey to the mafia, their beautiful capital was much less vulnerable. Recent events have shown that comforting vision to be wrong on two counts. Italy’s southern mafias have been quietly building stakes in the capital’s economy, and Rome has been revealed to host an autonomous underworld more extensive, organised and powerful than anyone knew. Rome is the real money-laundering centre for the money earned from drug trafficking, arms, extortion, illegal money lending and prostitution. Another new, quasi-mafia group named the Mafia Capitale, consisted of crooked businessmen, politicians and officials, has been active in the capital, skimming hundreds of millions of euro off everything from road maintenance to migrant accommodation centres. This situation has its roots in the immensely degraded political and religious culture of the leadership, that mirrors a far too low level of acculturation amongst the population.

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