Pope Francis fires warning to Mafia as mob bosses benefit from Covid pandemic

Pope Francis has blasted organised crime groups, including the Italian Mafia, who are using the pandemic for financial gain.

The 84-year-old said mafias "all around the world" are taking advantage of Covid and the pandemic and are using it to enrich themselves through corruption.

He labelled organisations run by mob bosses as "structures of sin" and are not people of faith.

Italian police claim crime clans are using the pandemic to offer hard-up families loans to buy food, leading them to financial ruin.

Police say mob loan sharks are also bailing out businesses hit by the pandemic and then demanding exorbitant interest rates.

Pope Francis said: "Mafias are present in various part of the world and, taking advantage of the pandemic, they are enriching themselves through corruption.

"These structures of sin, mafia structures, are against the gospel and mistake idolatry for faith."

His address comes on a day Italy mourns the death of "all victims" of organised crime.

The Pope’s stark call for a crackdown on crime comes after Interpol issued a global alert in December that warned organised criminal networks are targeting coronavirus vaccines.

South African Police echoed the alert in March after officers seizes hundreds of fake vaccines and arrested four suspects.

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Italy’s Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta mob has overtaken Sicily's Cosa Nostra as the most feared crime group in the country in recent years.

The group make most of their money from drug trafficking, police claim, but a spate of mob-linked murders have also gripped the country.

It is believed 'Ndrangheta is now operating throughout the world, viewing themselves as a religious, cult-like group, invoking the help of saints and using religious figurines or statues in initiation rites.

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