[Stop-traffic] News/Albania: Foreign gangs working with Italian mobs on lucrativ...

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Albania: Foreign gangs working with Italian mobs on lucrativ...
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Jan 01 2001 - 18:39:00 EST


          Foreign gangs working with Italian mobs on lucrativ...

  The Associated Press.

By FRANCES D'EMILIO
  Associated Press Writer
    ROME (AP) -- Albanian, Moldovan and other foreign gangs have worked out
turf arrangements with the Italian underworld in the booming business of
smuggling women and children for prostitution and black market labor,
Italian organized crime experts said Thursday.
    The lucrative business may even include selling organs from impoverished
immigrants, a possibility now being investigated by Italian anti-Mafia
prosecutors.
    International cooperation among criminals is one reason trafficking in
human beings generates some dlrs 7 billion in annual income for criminals,
according to U.N. statistics cited by Italian Sen. Tana de Zulueta,
presenting a report by the Italian Parliament's anti-Mafia Commission, a
standing investigative body.
    "There's a rebirth of the phenomenon of slavery," said the senator. "We
need new laws to adequately face this dramatic problem."
    Next week, Italy will host a U.N. conference dedicated to the fight
against trafficking in people so desperate for a better life they have let
themselves become merchandise in what is now considered organized crime's
No. 2 revenue maker after drugs.
    The conference is mainly symbolic. Officials from countries around the
world will travel to Sicily to put their signatures on a U.N. accord
reached last month to close loopholes blocking international efforts to
crack down on criminal activities ranging from money laundering to
immigrant smuggling.
    Italy boasts that is in the vanguard of countries trying to come up with
innovative ways to strike back at trafficking in human beings.
    At least one Italian strategy seems to be working, said de Zueleta,
briefing journalists. Italy will allow to stay in the country women who are
willing to denounce smugglers who forced them into prostitution after
luring them from their countries with false promises of jobs.
    The commission reported that so far this year 103 Albanian women and 120
Moldovans were granted legal papers and protection in return for
testifying. Scores of other women came from Nigeria, Ukraine and Romania.
    The senator said that there was no confirmation that immigrants had been
smuggled in for their organs, but Italy's special anti-Mafia investigative
unit is looking into reports reaching prosecutors in Trieste, near Italy's
border with Slovenia, a common clandestine crossing pint, that trafficking
for transplants is a reality.
    Albanian crime syndicates have cut deals with Italian gangsters in
Puglia, in southeast Italy where the boats nearly nightly drop off
clandestine immigrants. In exchange for not having their routes interfere
with Italian cigarette smugglers working the Adriatic, Albanians gangs were
given a free hand in moving about in Puglia, the senator said.
    Albanian mobsters also pay off Neapolitan area Camorra gangs so that
prostitutes can work certain streets, the commission found. And the
Albanians apparently pay the Sicilian Mafia to perform certain criminal
tasks.
    (fd/vls)

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