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Camorra: the criminal organization of building trade and wasting management

Though less known abroad than its sicilian counterpart, the mafia,  the term camorra refers to another criminal organization in Italy, known all over the territory. It is often associated and replaced by the term mafia in other countries and presented by foreign news as a local mafia, although it is not correct to say so.

Though using some of the same methods and having some affinities in terms of culture of hierarchy and business aims, mafia and Camorra must be considered two different and separate organizations, one independent from the other. They do not work in cooperation and they do not depend on each other, even if they had some sort of interaction in the past. They are distinct criminal phenomena, having their areas of control, history, development and geographical origins.


If mafia originated in Sicily, the criminal organization of camorra was born in Naples in the 19th century. The genesis of the Camorra phenomenon is still largely unknown and several hypothesis have been created; however, what has characterized this criminal organization since its birth was its gruesome the rite of initiation, always involving a duel. Nowadays such rite has been re-invented inside the Camorra as well as in other criminal organizations, and is often based  on exchange of blood or other types of “baptism”.

Though incredible to believe, and despite the violence and crimes committed by the cammoristi, people belonging to camorra, they were supported by the population who regarded them as those who could protect them, in a certain way, and ensure a minimum of justice and legality; they were seen as those who organized things and defined roles in the town.

Today camorra is seen as a real social evil threatening society with bribes requests and extorsion, as well as usury, arms trade, fixed tenders, money-laundering  and for their presence in illegal businesses such as prostitution, cigarette smuggling, interference in the field of building and estate, the control of fruit and vegetable market; all this for a turnover of 12 billions of euros a year, according to estimated data. Camorra has often been defined as the criminal organization of business that obtains fixed tenders and has control in the field of construction.

However, the business considered the most fruitful for camorra in the last 10 years is  that of wasting management. The illegal purchase of factories’ waste, coming from both the North of Italy and foreign countries, on behalf of the criminal organization, has had an effect on some areas of Campania turning some parts of its territory into open garbage dumps, where toxic waste was buried under the ground, increasing considerably the rate of dioxin and causing health damage and threat to the population. For this very reason, the Camorra is considered one of the most dangerous criminal organizations for its unscroupulousness and for being cause and effect of part of some socio-economic problems of the region. Moreover, the presence of splits within the several branches of the organization often leads to feuds taking place in degraded areas of the region making them unaccessible zones.

Camorra represents, then, a threat and an obstacle for the population of this region. However, it has not to be confused with a group of thiefs because it is a big criminal organization, with interest in and acting all over the territory. Its presence is, in fact, in every place where there are great businesses and economic interests. Actually, its cooperation and interaction in the life of institutions is widely renowned as it has often taken part in first person in the political life through the presence of political representatives that it managed to introduce in the political life. Having collaborators within Italian government is considered one of his strength, and an expedient to work better and undisturbed. If we consider the idea and the image of the new camorra, there has been a great change in the image of the camorrista who turned from a common and gross person into a new and more refined model. Today a lot of people who are part of this organization often study and a lot of them are involved in the politcal sector or study law in order not to create suspicion and to cooperate with the criminal organization by means of an institutional support, which is obviously illegal.

Camorra has some points in common with mafia and one of these is certainly the bad consequences having on the life of honest citizens, who often live in constant fear of being asked the pizzo, protection money, or see their region dishonor itself because of their crimes. Their presence is so rooted in the fact  people have learned how to cohabit with it, an attitude for which they are always blamed and denounced, that they are ending up considering this condition as a normal condition of society, perhaps because it is now part of their culture and the presence of the term camorra into the daily vocabulary is, in a certain way, witness of this situation. The term is, in fact, not only used to refer to the criminal organization but, for extension of meaning, it also indicates a type of mentality exalting arrogance and omerty, conspiracy of silence.

Camorra is deeply rooted in the area and for this reason several police operations have been organized in order to limit and fight this criminal phenomenon; whether it will be definitely defeated one day we don’t know, but we hope population will be an active part in this process without being scared of risking their life and putting an end to the rule of silence.

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