Friday, December 8, 2017

'Coffee is the new racket': Sicilian mafia brews up trouble

Less than a month after the death of Sicily’s most notorious mafia boss, his daughter is attempting to trade on his infamy with a range of espresso products bearing his name. Days after Salvatore 'Totò' Riina died in a prison hospital on 17 November, his daughter, Concetta Riina, created an online espresso store named Uncle Totò after the man believed responsible for 150 murders.

Coffee is an effective tool for crime bosses to extort money. Bars are often bullied into selling specific coffee brands promoted by mobsters, who skim the profits.

Mafia experts say that coffee was not a random choice for the daughter of Sicily’s “boss of bosses”.

Toto Riina's wife Ninetta Bagarella and his son Salvo attend his funeral
Bar and restaurant owners are willing to pay the higher prices for fear of retribution. It’s a much subtler way to extort money from owners of bars and restaurants – and a difficult method for the police to intercept. Some mobsters have even taken to producing their own coffee. Nicola Gratteri, one of Italy’s anti-mafia chief prosecutors, said that the tactic was becoming increasingly common. “People might think it’s just an espresso, but there are thousands of bars. It would be as if the mafia forced every fish and chip shop in London to buy their cod from the bosses”
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