Toxic: Napoli

In the city of Naples, Italy, the Mafia has controlled the waste-management industry for decades – dumping and burning trash across its rolling hills and vineyards. In 1994, the European Union declared the situation an official environmental emergency, and things have only gotten worse since then.

When VICE investigated the situation they found mutated sheep, poisoned mozzarella, alarming rates of cancer, and pissed off farmers ready to push back against the Camorra, Italy’s most powerful and dangerous criminal organization (and the government that enables it).

At the beginning of 2008, world news outlets were flooded with images of garbage piles in the streets of Naples. The newly reelected premier, Silvio Berlusconi, made countless TV appearances, personally picking up trash and promising to resolve the situation.

Naples and the entire Campania region had been officially declared an environmental crisis over 14 years ago. The garbage piles were just a current distraction from the real emergency. Almost 8 million tons of rubbish stockpiled throughout the region, illegal toxic waste dumps, a serious human health crisis, and behind it all, the largest criminal organization in Italy, the Neapolitan Camorra.

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