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The world’s most powerful leaders meet in Apulia in the coming days, but ‘The Fourth Mafia’ haunts the scene

The annual G7 summit is to be held in an Italian region where violence between the mafia has increased.

Work is being done at high pressure in the Italian region of Apulia at the moment.

Street vendors are shaping ravioli and orricheti into long lanes, artisans are busy building red and yellow zones, and police and soldiers are getting ready to protect some of the world’s most powerful leaders, who are visiting as the G7 summit begins Thursday.

But it’s not just the city’s hard-working locals who are busy. It is also the region’s infamous mafia Sacra Corona Unita (SCU) also known as ‘The Fourth Mafia’.

Apulia (Puglia, ed. ) forms the heel of the Italian boot and in the coastal cities of Bari and Brindisi – precisely where the world’s most powerful leaders are supposed to meet – the mafia has carried out several violent attacks on enemies in broad daylight in recent months.

According to local media, there have been several high-profile revenge killings among the clans in recent months, as well as several mutilations and knee-snappings. Since March, there have also been almost daily bomb threats near Bari, writes CNN.

Meanwhile, G7 leaders from the US, UK, Italy, Canada, Japan, Germany and France are on their way to the annual summit. In addition, the guest list also includes names such as the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

The local authorities are therefore faced with a challenge where they have to ensure the safety of the world leaders, while at the same time maintaining the local order, which has been challenged to such an extent recently.

‘The Fourth Mafia’

The G7 summit is this year under the Italian presidency, and is therefore held in Italy. This year there will be a particular focus on the war in Ukraine, the current situation in the Middle East and migration.

Around the same time Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni announced the location of the meeting, the country’s interior ministry released a report saying the Sacra Corona Unita was showing “worrying signs” of trouble in the region.

As recently as May, an Italian court confirmed that it had decided to dissolve the city administration of one of the region’s cities after investigations showed that officials were influenced by the mafia.

Apulia ranks fourth among the Italian regions in the number of local administrations that have been dissolved due to mafia infiltration.

– No one could have predicted that Apulia up to the G7 would be affected by criminal events which – although they are not connected to each other – make the management of security even more complex, said the prefect of Brindisi, Luigi Carnevale, during a press conference the other day.

The SCU is not as well known in the rest of the world as the other three, but the name ‘The Fourth Mafia’ is also connected to the fact that they have the fourth place in the hierarchy of Italy’s mafia clans – it is therefore a powerful organisation.

The Sacra Corona Unita stands out from the other three – Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Naples and the ‘ Ndrangheta in Calabria – by operating primarily within Italy and the Balkans, according to Italy’s top anti-terror and anti-mafia unit DIGOS.

The SCU initially focused on contraband such as cigarettes with the Balkan countries, but has changed to work primarily on narcotics, money laundering and extortion.

How to increase security

Although authorities do not fear the unrest among the mafia will affect the G7 summit or its participants, extra measures are being put in place across Italy.

Since 5 June, the Schengen policy in the country has been suspended. This means that the border control has checked the passports of those who have entered Italy from other Schengen countries – this applies up to and including 18 June.

More than 5,000 troops have been deployed to the region, cruise ships are anchored off the coast and a US aircraft carrier is expected to arrive by the weekend. In addition, almost 60 people were arrested last month in drug-related cases.

– It is clear that none of these events will in any way endanger the world’s great personalities, as they will be super protected and unapproachable for the three days, says the police chief in Puglia to CNN and adds:

– But it is necessary to ensure the same tranquility for the approximately 10,000 people who will move between Bari and Brindisi that week (delegations, journalists, observers) and who will not benefit from the protection of bodyguards and security services.

According to the police chief, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure that crime does not “creep” into the rest of the region, while all eyes are on the cities of Bari and Bandisi.

The G7 summit starts on Thursday 13 June and runs until 15 June.

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