The Financial Times has a long and fascinating story about how the Mafia has integrated itself into the food chain - far beyond Vito Corleone’s investment in the olive oil business.

Here’s how FT frames the story:

“Siphoning off farm subsidies does not carry the same dubious ‘glamour’ as the racketeering or drug running usually associated with the Mafia. But it has become a highly lucrative income stream for Italy’s organised-crime syndicates. Their forays into farming do not end there: in recent years, they have infiltrated the entire food chain, according to a Rome-based think-tank, the Observatory of Crime in Agriculture and the Food Chain … Taking advantage of the decade-long economic crisis in Italy, the Mafia has bought up cheap farmland, livestock, markets and restaurants, laundering its money through what is one of the country’s leading industries.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Mafia has found food counterfeiting to be lucrative: “Counterfeited organic food is the most profitable area. In one operation, Italian gangs were found importing wheat from Romania and labelling it as organic, which commands a price three to four times higher. Knock-offs of prestigious Italian products such as mozzarella di bufala campana and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese have increasingly entered the market.”

The food business, FT writes, “now accounts for 15 per cent of total estimated Mafia turnover” … and that includes every link in the food chain, from farm to retail, and extending into global exports.

You can read the entire story here.