The trouble with new entrants

Nigerian and Italian gangsters are battling for turf in Naples.

Nigerian gangsters have made Castel Volturno a European headquarters. In the 1990s, demand boomed here for African prostitutes — prosecutors call it “the Naomi Campbell phenomenon.” Camorra clans “rented” turf to Nigerian pimps, a line of work that Neapolitan gangsters disdain.

And as cocaine flows increasingly to Europe through West Africa, Nigerians have graduated from their previous role as smuggling “mules” and pay the Camorra for a cut of street trafficking action.

“The Camorra worked well with the Nigerians at first,” said Antonio Laudati, a top Justice Ministry official who led a major prosecution of the Nigerian mafia last year. “They were low-cost labor. They were well-received because they were cheap and very loyal. But then the Nigerians started to rise to a new level.”

Are gangsters who want to enagage in more respectable crime “forced” to engage in the mucky or low-profit stuff just to keep new entrants out of the crime business? Poor, poor gangsters…

There’s an industrial organization paper waiting to be written here.