Home News Italy: All about the “Quarta Mafia”, the criminal organization in northern Puglia

Italy: All about the “Quarta Mafia”, the criminal organization in northern Puglia


Until now underestimated, the criminal organization “Quarta Mafia” is committing attacks now qualified as a “national emergency” in Italy.

From the north of Puglia, where she is from, she now plagues the local administration and wealth-producing businesses.

Its rise to power is multifactorial: the omertà, the complacency of civil society in the south-east of the Peninsula, as well as a strategic geographical location have contributed to its rise, which is as ultra-violent… as it is discreet.

What is the Mafia?

If this criminal organization was able to engulf the Puglia region while making itself more or less forgotten, it is primarily because – for many years – La Botte’s attention was elsewhere. With an estimated appearance of the first mafia systems during the period of Risorgimento (Italian unification, between 1859 and 1871), the history of modern Italy is marked by these underground economies.

Today hackneyed, the term mafia first refers stricto sensu to the Sicilian mafia. Starting from a rural and poor Sicily, the mafia became popular, especially as it was exported, along with Italian emigration from the beginning of the 20th century to the United States. It is this same story that director Francis Ford Coppola will portray in the film The Godfather, in 1972. The film, which sees actors Marlon Brando and Al Pacino camp the father and son of the Corleone clan, a mafia family of Sicilian origin having control over New York, is today considered one of the leaders works of world cinema.

Simultaneously with the writing of the cinematographic myth, in Italy, criminal organizations continue to proliferate, wherever the population is impoverished. They also clash between rival organizations, finding fertile ground throughout the south of the peninsula, less industrialized than the north, and historically more rural.

“Quarta” as “fourth”

The “Quarta Mafia” which currently reigns terror in Puglia is therefore a kind of fourth chapter in a book begun a long time ago. The Mafia has become a generic term, used to designate it by those who fight it. In Sicily, it is mostly Cosa Nostra that wins. Around Naples and throughout the Campania region, the Camorra rules. It will also be staged in the series Gomorra, taken from the eponymous novel by the Italian writer and journalist Roberto Saviano.

As for the Calabria region, for many years it was plagued by the ‘Ndrangheta. The latter, which will experience its golden age over the past thirty years, after having supplanted Cosa Nostra and the Camorra – is currently at the center of a sprawling trial… Two years long and bringing together 300 defendants, or relatively few for definitive dismantle it.

Shadow and Omertà

The “Quarta mafia” has developed thanks to the shadow that its rivals have hitherto given it. The phenomenon is frequent, and it is moreover the one from which the N’Drangheta benefited. Much less known and feared than the Neapolitan Camorra or Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian criminal organization would have succeeded in accumulating, according to Italian justice, an annual turnover of 50 billion euros… thus becoming the criminal organization richest in Italy.

Even more undervalued, the “Quarta Mafia” of Puglia has become overpowered today, from the foot of the mountainous massif of Gargano, to the town of Foggia and its province. Since August 2021, Foggia no longer has a city councilor or city council. Everything was dissolved, due to mafia infiltrations which distorted calls for tenders and elections. They are also suspected of corrupting elected officials. In the region, five other municipalities are affected by this same court decision.

The configuration of the region, consisting of hilly terrain and steep paths, does not help. It thus dissuades the most remote from filing a complaint against intimidation. Finally, in these areas where the influence of the Catholic religion remains very present, recruitment is done from childhood: some children are enrolled in the organization by the sacrament of the first communion, thanks to “sponsors”. .who have never been so badly named. With such an ingrained presence, the omertà sometimes turns into a veritable open secret, leaving the authorities without outside help to defuse ways of thinking.

A geostrategic location

Unlike other organizations, the “Quarta Mafia” has a more or less proven link with Serbian and Montenegrin organized crime (drug trafficking, arms trafficking). From the Balkans, other organized crime groups have set their sights on drug trafficking from South America in recent years.

A window of opportunity largely within reach for the “Quarta Mafia” which, like its neighbors, demonstrates an ultra-violent operation. Since January 2022, between attacks and blood crimes, the “mostro a quattro teste” (in Italian, four-headed monster) has spread around ten bombs in the towns of Foggia, San Severo and Vieste – in just ten days .