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How the tiny Italian city of Foggia became a mafia battleground

On 10 January, residents of Foggia, in the southern Italian region of Puglia, took to the streets to protest against organised crime.

The first three weeks of 2020 have seen a wave of bomb attacks and at least one murder, while four municipalities of the province – Monte Sant”Angelo, Mattinata, Manfredonia and Cerignola – have been placed under “extraordinary administration” because of links to the mafia.

A new anti-mafia task force, with its headquarters in Foggia, will begin work on February 15 in an attempt to combat collusion between mafioso, lawyers, public services and local business.

“[Foggia is a] middle ground where lawful and illicit business tends to meet, to the point of confusion,” according to the most recent Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) report.

What’s the background to the mafia in the region?

The roots of the mafia in Puglia dates back to the 1980s, and the Sacra Corona Unita, under charismatic leader Pino Rogoli, a mob boss who has been in jail in Bari since 1981.

Sacra Corona Unita is a project of regional syndicate of around 50 clans with some 2,000 members, involved in smuggling cigarettes, drugs, arms and people.

In August 2017, the Sacra Corona Unita was implicated in the murder of four people, a local mafioso and his brother as well as two innocent bystanders.

Now, in 2020, the gangs in Foggia are once again embroiled in violence.

“To create criminal fame is an essential point of the mafia phenomenon,” says Andrea Leccese, a mafia expert and author of…

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