Varese, Federico. Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories.

Author:Brown, Lee
Position:Book review

Varese, Federico. Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011. x + 278 pages. Cloth, $35.00.

Federico Varese's research into the possibility of economic globalization by mafia families establishes a groundwork model for examining other forms of expanding criminal enterprises. The unit of analysis, 'mafia', is defined as "a group that supplies protection in the territory of origin" or more precisely "extra-legal governance" (p. 4). Varese's book examines whether or not 'protection' is mobile? His method of employing a 'possibility principle' allows for a sharper understanding of the dependent variable by illustrating the conditions under which transplantation was not successful as outlined in his 'Factors' tables (p. 29). Varese, the Director of the Extra-Legal Governance Institute at the University of Oxford, defines 'transplantation' as the ability of a mafia "to operate an outpost over a sustained period outside its region of origin" (p. 6). The meaning of 'sustained period' is open to debate.

Varese's central goal is to illustrate why mafia transplantation succeeds or fails. Through extensive research and interviews with knowledgeable individuals on both sides of the law, the author diagrams the factors that must align for transplantation to be effective. The conditions that lead to the success of an expansion into new territories are both man-made (New York City) and circumstantial (Bardonecchia, Italy). Some mafia family members fled for 'personal health' reasons but many more were physically forced to relocate. Varese shows that controlling crime is a problem that impacts every aspect of society. Whether that method is incarceration or transplantation the entire community is effected directly or indirectly by the activities and costs of this new segment of the population. What, then, is the best method for eradicating, or, at a minimum, controlling the expansion of organized crime across territorial borders? Clearly, relocation of criminals (soggiorno obbligato) is ineffective under most conditions and imprisonment leads to criminal net working. In other words, both options are flawed. Varese notes that in many cases of relocation the operatives are victims of bad luck and not necessarily entrepreneurs.

Varese offers an exceptional model for determining the importance and outcome of the independent variables. Economic booms, lack of legal or illegal competition, and...

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