Organised crime groups run more than 5,000 restaurants across Italy, it has been revealed. Consumer group Coldiretti said the Mafia, Camorra and other groups are taking advantage of the ongoing economic crisis in the peninsula to "penetrate [Italy's] legal economy".
The group made the remarks following anti-mob operations that saw police seize the bank accounts and 24 properties from a Neapolitan family, amounting to a total value of €20m ($21m, £17m).
Properties included the Donna Sophia dal 1931 restaurant in Milan and the Villa delle Ninfe event venue in Naples.
Coldiretti explained organised crime gangs use restaurants and venues to launder money.
Citing its latest report exploring the link on food industry and organised crime, the group said the so-called "agromafia"– a word created by fusing "agriculture" and "mafia" – generated €21.8 bn last year. The amount has increased by 30% from 2015.
"Agriculture has become one of the priority investment areas for the underworld," Coldiretti explained. "They understand that it is strategic in a time of crisis because it allows them to infiltrate civil society in a widespread way and condition people's everyday lives."
Mafia clans have often been linked to, among other things, the food industry in Italy.
Last summer, Italian police arrested 24 members of a clan accused of having taken over the sale of bread across the southern city of Naples.
It is believed the group, belonging to the Camorra, baked bread in illegal ovens and sold it at prices higher than the ones on the normal market.
The group forced supermarkets, street vendors and suppliers to buy bread only from them, or face consequences.
Some alleged the bread sold was carcinogenic as it was baked in old wood ovens that had been painted.