Research Project

Countering Regional Italian Mafia Expansion (CRIME)

Principal Investigator
Dr Anna Sergi
Pebbles stacked on top of each other on the beach

Countering regional Italian Mafia expansion (CRIME) is a project funded by the UK ESRC impact acceleration account at the University of Essex

By using open data and primary resources,  previous and ongoing research, and the privileged partnerships with Eurojust Italian Desk and Operations and Europol, the Mafiaround-Europe report - stemming from the CRIME (Countering Regional Italian Mafia Expansion) project presents the first analysis of the presence of Italian mafias in 7 European countries in addition to Italy and the challenges of cross border policing of mafia-type organised crime. Production of the report, Mafiaround Europe, was enabled by funding from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, block awards made to research organisations to accelerate the impact of research. The report highlights how mafia-type activities have adapted to individual countries, their economy, culture, infrastructure and logistics networks.


The project led by Dr Anna Sergi received funding in December 2019 for a start in April 2020 and a projected end in October 2020. Due to delays and constrictions brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic, C.R.I.M.E has been reshaped in the summer of 2020 to co-produce an explorative report looking at the main trends on the mobility of Italian mafias in Europe today.  Both partners will be using this for their own internal practice and will feed this into their communication with other EU institutions.

Dr Sergi, has liaised with Eurojust (Italian Desk and Operations) and Europol Italian Organised Crime Unit as privileged participants and partners of this project from the start, but the project has remained autonomous from both institutions. These institutions, together with others (such as different Antimafia District Directorate, the DIA - Italian Direzione Investigativa Antimafia through its reports, and the Department of Public Security within the Ministry of Interior of Italy) have supported the project through ad-hoc interviews and exchanges of non-operational and non-personal data on Italian organised crime in Europe.

"It is fundamental to continue and to enhance the fight against mafia-type criminality at European level. This report represents a unique effort to systematise knowledge on Italian mafias and their worrying presence in some EU Member States. It is also a valuable source of inspiration to address perduring shortcomings on criminal law and tool to help practitioners in their daily cross-border cooperation with the EU partners."
Filippo Spiezia national member for italy and former vice president at eurojust

Learn more about the project

Objectives of the final report

The objectives of the final report are: 

1) To summarise the current mafia map of the presence of Italian mafias in six countries in Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Romania), prioritised as those requiring more support in judicial cooperation. A focus on Italy has been added for clarity. A seventh country, the United Kingdom, has been added later on due to the peculiarity of its position in Europe, following the exit from the European Union since 1 January 2021. 

2) To present applicable substantial criminal law in these countries specifically in relation to the following offences: a) participation in organised crime groups (conspiracy, membership, participation) b) drug importation / trafficking and c) money laundering. 

3) To identify some of the challenges in judicial cooperation across Europe, with a specific focus on the relationships between these countries and Italy.  This project and its final report are unique.

This is the first attempt not only to link a criminological map of Italian mafia mobility in European countries by systematising available data, but it’s also the first analysis of the challenges of cross-border policing and judicial cooperation in the European fight against Italian mafias. The analysis contained in this report is valuable to policy makers in Europe as well as to students and researchers on the subject to both deepen the knowledge on Italian mafia mobility but also practically thinking about how to overcome existing challenges of cooperation. 

Download the full report