Italian mafia clans have been busted illegally claiming government subsidies designed for helping poor people. The recipients of payments include the children of a notorious drug lord dubbed ‘Italy’s Pablo Escobar’.
Some 101 crime bosses and members of several mafia clans fraudulently claimed and received payments under the ‘Citizenship Income’ financial aid scheme, intended to help poor households and the unemployed, Italy’s tax police said. The clans in question come from the country’s southern Calabria Region, whose notoriously ruthless crime syndicates are known under the umbrella name ‘Ndrangheta.
Among those who received the payouts are the children of Roberto Pannunzi. Known as ‘Italian Pablo Escobar’ and nicknamed ‘Bebe’ (Baby), he is described by the tax police as “one of the world’s largest cocaine brokers,” and has been in jail since 2013. His eldest son, Alessandro Pannunzi, is married to a daughter of a major cocaine producer in Colombia, and has been found guilty of importing “several tons” of drugs to Italy, police said.
Overall, the mafia clans have managed to receive around €516,000 ($566,000) in welfare payments – and that money will now be confiscated by the Italian authorities.
Introduced last year, the ‘Citizenship Income’ scheme allows people who meet certain criteria to collect up to €780 ($856) a month. Only citizens with proven low living standards can apply for the program, and will lose the benefits if they don’t engage in job-seeking activities.
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