Mounting pressure on the Italian mafia is driving illegal business into Switzerland, where police say the battle against crime rings has become a priority.
The latest annual report by the Federal Police Office (Fedpol) was made public on Sunday and stated that action had to be taken before organised crime from Italy could gather a comfortable base.
“The N’Drangheta (Calabrian mafia) is a clear priority in Fedpol work this year,” spokesman Stefan Kunfermann said.
Fedpol reviewed a report last summer that found the N'Dragheta - one of the more violent of the Italian crime gangs - had gone beyond money laundering. Police believe the crime ring has also established interests in construction, property and catering in Switzerland. Kunfermann said the group also uses the country for large-scale drug trafficking and as a hideout for wanted members.
Stephanie Oesch, a Zurich University researcher and author of a book looking at organised crime and the Swiss financial sector, said activities have increased “greatly”.
Oesch estimates the crime ring has filtered between SFr20 billion and SFr30 billion ($21-$31 billion) during the past five years through Swiss investments in catering, real estate, art and luxury goods.
A Swiss-Italian task force was set up between the two countries in 2009 to find ways of working together in the fight. That group will have its first meeting within the next year.
swissinfo.ch and agencies