BBC: Couple Takes Stand Against Camorra

"Their life has been blighted by Italy's bloodiest mafia, the Naples Camorra, but Alessandra Clemente and Antonio Prestieri could hardly come from more different backgrounds," reports BBC News.

"Her mother was killed by the brutal crime syndicate. His father was one of its clan bosses.

"And yet the two have become unlikely friends. More striking still, they are now taking a brave stand against the Camorra, inspired by the firm conviction that it can be defeated once and for all.

"Clemente, who was only 10 when her mother was killed accidentally in a shoot-out between Camorra clans, wants to become a judge taking on organised crime cases.

"She also engages with convicted juvenile delinquents, including the offspring of Camorra bosses, in an attempt to talk them into abandoning their life of crime. And she volunteers at a centre which provides free legal advice to victims of racketeering."

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The Camorra is a Mafia-type secret society, originating in the region of Campania and its capital Naples in Italy. It is said to be one of the oldest and largest criminal organizations in Italy, going back to the 18th century.

"The Camorra existed in USA between the mid-19th century and early 20th century," writes Wikipedia. "Eventually, they melded with the early Italian-American Mafia groups."

Additionally, the website reports that "many Camorra members and associates fled the internecine gang warfare and Italian Justice and emigrated to the United States in the 1980s. In 1993, the FBI estimated that there were 200 Camorristi in the United States.

"Although there appears to be no clan structure in the United States, Camorra members have established a presence in Cleveland, Los Angeles,Albany and Springfield, Massachusetts. The Camorra is supposedly the least active of all the organized crime groups in the United States. In spite of this, U.S. law enforcement considers the Camorra to be a rising criminal enterprise, especially dangerous because of "its ability to adapt to new trends and forge new alliances with other criminal organizations."

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation:"In the 1970s, the Sicilian Mafia convinced the Camorra to convert their cigarette smuggling routes into drug smuggling routes with the Sicilian Mafia's assistance. Not all Camorra leaders agreed, leading to the Camorra Wars that cost 400 lives. Opponents of drug trafficking lost the war. The Camorra made a fortune in reconstruction after an earthquake ravaged the Campania region in 1980.

"Now it specializes in cigarette smuggling and receives payoffs from other criminal groups for any cigarette traffic through Italy. The Camorra is also involved in money laundering, extortion, alien smuggling, robbery, blackmail, kidnapping, political corruption, and counterfeiting. It is believed that nearly 200 Camorra affiliates reside in this country, many of whom arrived during the Camorra Wars."

Back to Wikipedia: In 1995, the Camorra cooperated with the Russian Mafia in a scheme in which the Camorra would bleach out US $1.00 dollar bills and reprint them as $100s. These bills would then be transported to the Russian Mafia for distribution in 29 post-Eastern Bloc countries and former Soviet republics. In return, the Russian Mafia paid the Camorra with property (including a Russian bank) and firearms, smuggled into Eastern Europe and Italy.