Unorganized Crime: Mob Mussel and the Rogue Priest
Bosnia’s fraudulent, multipurpose holy man, Neapolitan gangsters muscling in on the mollusc business, and the drug dealers dressing up as key workers to dodge lockdown restrictions -- oddities from the past few days, from us at OCCRP’s Daily News team.
Based in and around the city of Naples, the Camorra have many strings to their bow: drug trafficking, racketeering, prostitution, high-profile corruption, counterfeiting, money laundering, and now... shellfish.
Earlier this year, police in Italy’s Campania region announced the arrest of at least a dozen individuals with ties to the criminal syndicate. Not for your run-of-the-mill mafioso dealings, but for illegally harvesting date mussels along the Amalfi coast and around the island of Capri.
According to a recent report by the Guardian, these small molluscs are considered a local delicacy, even an aphrodisiac. Their sale is outlawed in the EU owing to the destruction wrought by harvesting practices: it can apparently take underwater ecosystems more than 50 years to recover from the damage.
As a result, a single kilogram of the prized shellfish can fetch up to 200 euros (US$245) on the thriving local black market. Their rarity and high price has clearly piqued the interest of the region’s most notorious criminal operators, who are allegedly purchasing the molluscs from poachers to serve as a symbol of status at gatherings and celebrations, especially Christmas.
Meanwhile in the U.K., prosecutors on Monday announced the conviction of several members of an organized crime group who had posed as essential workers in order to deal drugs during the recent lockdown.
Following the successful international takedown of messaging service EncroChat -- an encrypted platform that authorities said had been used “exclusively” by criminals -- officers with the National Crime Agency and Met Police in London used hacked messages from the company’s servers to build their case against the group.
One such message read: “Mate, do you have a high vis and stuff for the van? And like builder clothes? We need to look official in times like this.”
The culprits have received a combined sentence of 33 and a half years in prison.
Over in Bosnia, a man has been charged with fraudulently acquiring tens of thousands in convertible marks after variously posing as a Catholic priest, an Orthodox archbishop and a Muslim schoolmaster to perform religious rites for members of the respective religions and denominations.
Though the man has not yet been named, his photo has been shared numerous times on social media, along with accounts of him consecrating waters, holding funeral services and even baptising children.
And finally, prosecutors in Massachusetts have announced the conviction of one of the state’s youngest-ever mayors on charges of corruption.
Jaisel F. Correia II, who at the age of 24 was elected mayor of Fall River in 2016, was found guilty on Saturday of fraudulently acquiring more than $200,000 from investors in an app he’d set up called SnoOwl, designed to help businesses better connect with their customers.
He also extorted bribes from marijuana vendors looking to set up shop in the city, spending the proceeds of his crimes on his political campaign, repaying his student debt, and funding a lavish lifestyle that included the purchase of designer clothing, jewelry, travel and adult entertainment.