Secretive Chinese communities scattered throughout the world are the real power base of criminal networks managed by their compatriots. Chinese enterprises in Europe keep up robust bonds with their motherland. They often serve as hubs for counterfeit goods sourced from mainland China and Hong Kong and are the natural outlet for the labor force emigrating from their country to the Old Continent.
The migratory flux from China is strongly conditioned by crime syndicates' needs, according to annual reports from the European law enforcement agency Europol and Italy's Anti-Mafia National Directorate.
Paolo Borsellino, a famous Italian anti-mafia prosecutor, who in 1992 was victim of a car bombing attack plotted by the Cosa Nostra criminal organization, used to say that "politics and mafia are two powers aiming to control the same territory: they either fight one another or come to terms".
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The Camorra and Ndrangheta, two criminal groups that have overtaken the Cosa Nostra as the most powerful Italian mafias, have joined forces with their Chinese counterparts while facilitating the illegal entry of counterfeits via several container-terminal ports in southern Italy such as Naples, Salerno, Gioia Tauro and Taranto.
In 2010, the Italian revenue police defeated two money-laundering outfits that since 2006 had illegally transferred US$3.5 billion to China. The criminal network was led by Chinese nationals who smuggled fake fashion producs into Eastern Europe from their base in Italy.