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Report: Mafia Now Italy's Biggest Bank Due To Economic Crisis

"A national emergency affecting businesses throughout Italy."

The Blaze has told you this week about the growing black market in Europe and the rapidly strengthening influence of the 'Ndrangheta mafia clan across Europe and even overseas.

Well, the most recent financial numbers have come in, and things are just as bad as we thought. In fact, they may be worse.

Today the mafia is not only the biggest bank in Italy-- it is the country's single most profitable business as well, thanks in large part to crippling national debt and rampant government corruption.

Mafia clans-- including the 'Ndrangheta, Camorra, Stidda and the Sacra Corona Unita-- are pulling in $204 billion a year. Each crime family is known to control illegal activity and massive amounts of cash around the globe.

It's clear that the mafia has harnessed globalization for its own illicit ends. ABC News cites a report from Confesercenti, an Italian employment association, released Tuesday that describes:

"various different mafia clans... as the "biggest bank" in the country with 65 billion euros ($83 billion) in liquidity. The association said the situation was a "national emergency" affecting businesses throughout Italy and is no longer to be considered as having a more powerful hold on the south of the country."

Marco Venturi, President of Conferscenti, stated that "During this economic crisis, mafia organizations are the only businessmen able to invest. We should never forget that the economic crisis is useful for organized crime which influences the legitimate economy and floods the illegal economy with both the production and sale of illegal goods."

Venturi also said that "small and medium-size businesses are the main victims of rackets, loan sharking, and robberies by organized crime that generate 140 billion euros a year of which 100 billion are extracted from companies."

Italian police have also pointed to a surge in loan sharking due to the present economic climate which is making it very difficult for Italians to borrow money.

According to estimates, loan sharking forced 1,800 businesses to close and destroyed thousands of jobs. Small business owners are the most vulnerable given Italy's harsh economic climate, and around 200,000 are victims of usury.

Confesercenti, which represents around 270,000 Italian businesses, estimates firms are subjected to 1,300 crimes a day or 50 every hour, nearly one every minute.

And in the shadows, 'Ndrangheta and other clans make millions in cash with each drug sale, which they invest in businesses, real estate, corrupt police, and of course, politicians.

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