In November 2004, the Italian government pledged national resources to Naples in the fight against organised crime. But two years later, despite some high profile arrests, nothing seems to have changed, especially in Naples.
Prime Minister Romani Prodi now talks of sending police reinforcements there. But Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Lervolino doubts it will be enough.
“We need above all a major mobilisation,” she said, “like we had during the terrorist bombings of the 1970s. We need policies that are both social and cultural. I beg the government not to forget Naples. We cannot be abandoned.”
It’s not that the Italian authorities have not tried. Even the arrest of high profile members of the Camorra, the local crime organisation, have little effect.
It’s said that the Camorra controls not just businesses but whole industries. You can’t buy a flower, or a slice of veal without paying the Camorra, they say.
According to experts there are three main criminal societies: the Camorra in Naples, the Cosa Nostra in Sicily and the Ndrangheta in the state of Calabria.
Their combined sales turnover has been estimated to be 80 billion euros.
In the poverty-stricken south, crime is often the only choice for those between 25 and 30, more than half of whom are permanently unemployed.
The Camorra alone, it is said, has up to 100 thousand people on its payroll and turns over 25 billion euros annually.
There’s big money to be made for new recruits, but the risk of being killed in turf wars is ever present.
Six chances in ten of becoming a corpse is how one police chief put it.
To beat the criminal organisations you have to defeat poverty and for the past 12 years authorities have spent money on public works to create employment and beautify Naples.
But as the recent spate of killings show, organised crime, like cancer, is not so easy to cure.