MAFIAS ON THE MOVE: How ORGANIZED CRIME CONQUERS NEW TERRITORIES
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), 278 pages.
Federico Varese's highly entertaining and vividly described book, Mafias on the Move, analyzes the variables that determine the success or failure of a mafia group's transfer to a new location through several case studies.
Varese's main argument contradicts conventional scholarship on this issue. While most authors contend that globalization has made it easier for international organized crime to migrate and transplant their activities to different locations, Varese argues that mafias seldom move, and when they do, it is rarely motivated by expansionism but forced by court orders, mafia wars, or prosecution in the country of origin. Varese also examines the conditions necessary for mafias to become stronger in a particular geographic area. He argues that mafias thrive in vacuums of power where states fail to provide necessary economic services because clients look to organized crime to fill the gap. This is particularly true during the emergence of new markets.