The Green Mafia
March 1, 2013 8:32 PM   Subscribe

“Uncle Vincenzo,” implored the businessman, Angelo Salvatore, using a term of affection for the alleged head of Sicily’s Gimbellina crime family, 79-year-old Vincenzo Funari. According to a transcript of their wiretapped conversation, Salvatore continued: “For the love of our sons, renewable energy is important. . . . It’s a business we can live on.”

Italian police in Sicily have made five arrests, including a town mayor, following an investigation into work commissioned for two Iberdrola-owned wind farms near Messina.
Italian law enforcement has recently uncovered deep links between the Cosa Nostra and wind and solar power companies, seizing around 30 percent of the wind farms built in Sicily and freezing more than $2 billion in various assets
posted by 445supermag (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Man! A good way to go straight ruined, just like that!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:58 PM on March 1, 2013

hoo boy. expect more of this, of both accurate and ginned-up provenance.

... speaking of green, allow me to say we'll see the same regarding legal pot, both actual attempts and smear stories.
posted by mwhybark at 9:15 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

When renewable energy is outlawed ...
posted by Smedleyman at 9:32 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

OK, that tears it! We gotta build more NUKES, dammit! They're run by honest, upstanding cartels who would never abuse government financing programs, and who have earned the public's trust with their crystal-clear policies and practices!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:34 PM on March 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Nice windmill. It would be a shame if something happened to it.
posted by snofoam at 9:48 PM on March 1, 2013 [12 favorites]

As a Sicilian-American, I think this has got be made into the Godfather IV.
posted by Skygazer at 9:58 PM on March 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I read a headline a few weeks back indicating that Italy's economy is entirely a mob-run economy. I wish I'd read the article now. I wonder if it is.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Of course the mafia is going to go for this. They're all over long term tradition and don't have to answer to shareholders who might sue their ass if they don't do whatever makes lots of money now now now, no matter if that business model is going to hit the ground in a couple months, much less a couple decades. Hell, comparing the amount of damage the average crime family does, with the amount of damage the banking industry has done in the past few years I'm sorta feeling both a little bit dirty and financially foolish about NOT investing my entire 401K in this little thing of Uncle Enzo's.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:56 PM on March 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

There is a long history of moving organized crime entities from criminal activity to legitimate business. It's much easier to eliminate the crime, than it is to end the organization.
posted by effugas at 2:05 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

... speaking of green, allow me to say we'll see the same regarding legal pot, both actual attempts and smear stories.

It's unclear to me why this should be the case. The factor which seems to connect green energy to organized crime is a heavy reliance on bureaucracies, which are involved in approving construction, and in determining the disposition of large pools of money earmarked for subsidizing green energy. These mechanisms are susceptible to being subverted by organized crime and corruption.

If legal pot means "anyone is allowed to grow it, and anyone is allowed to sell it, with government involvement at about the same level as liquor sales," it's hard for me to see where organized crime would be able to gain a foothold.
posted by alexei at 2:41 AM on March 2, 2013

Shouldn't we assume the Mafia is involved in most branches of Italian industry in some way or other?
posted by memebake at 2:45 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

All energy generation is massively subsidized. With green energy, it's explicit and trackable. With thermal power, who is really paying for the air emissions and water use? WaPo's coverage of environmental issues seems extremely weak. They've always given space to "the controversy".

This is kind of a non-story. Mafia involvement in construction in Sicily? Really?! Noes!! I suspect I'll have to help write something soonish to counter anti-wind claims about mob involvement in my projects. I bet someone will try to link a prominent wind acoustics researcher to organized crime just because he shares the same last name as one of the Five Families.

(For all that, there is a lovely not-very-organized crime and solar power story, allegedly from Spain. The country's first solar support mechanism was extremely generous, and it seems that some sharp lads realised they could rig up solar panels under indoor halogen lights and still rake in huge profits. They would have got away with it too, had they not kept the lights running at night ...)
posted by scruss at 4:39 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's always money in the windmill.
posted by arcticseal at 7:01 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

A wind turbine is a large pile of copper, steel, and rare earth metals.

That draws sketchy people like shit draws flies.

Same reason why the mafia is attracted to any construction project of any kind.

So what?
posted by ocschwar at 9:17 AM on March 2, 2013

If it was cheap, rugged, and reliable, I'd buy an electric vehicle from Uncle Enzo.
posted by no relation at 12:03 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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