It took a gun to Lazzaro D’Auria’s head to finally accept the request of Italy’s newest and most violent mafia group.
Dermeri from Apulia had resisted their extortion attempts, threats, fires, damage to his crops and property in the past. But when a dozen men landed, including an armed boss, landed one day early in the morning on his land, he agreed to hand over 150,000 euros a year.
Instead of paying, however, the next day he went to the police station, becoming one of the few people who have dared to denounce the Foggia mafia, which is returning to the horror of the country.
“If more citizens would dare to press charges, then the local mafia could be weakened. Citizens, come together and talk!” – says farmer Lazzaro D’Auria.
The 51-year-old has been living under police protection since 2017. Although the bloody wars between its clans were once seen as mere farmers’ feuds, the so-called “Fourth Mafia” — after Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta and the Camorra that Naples – has finally caused the alarm bells to ring for the Italian state. The newest organized crime syndicate has already made the southeastern province its stronghold, filling its coffers and cementing control through drug trafficking, armed robberies and the theft of vehicles and cattle for ransom.
“It is a rudimentary, primitive, very violent and very aggressive mafia,” says Foggia’s public prosecutor, Ludovico Vaccaro. Today’s mafia has developed, he says, it shoots less and follows a strategy of silence to act as much as possible without being noticed, but this criminal organization we are talking about is much more ferocious and attacks and kills to show the power of on its own territory.