Protection racket

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The extortion refers to a form of extortion crimes in which the victim is forced to promised "protection" power - to provide, but even in principle, does not receive further consideration - usually money. Usually citizens have a basic trust in their state because it provides its citizens with security as a public good . If the state is unable to provide security, private providers take its place and offer security as a private good . The terms protective interest and umbrella money are used synonymously.

Description and delimitation

The special thing about protection racket is usually the regular provision of this service, so that the payload takes on the form of a non-state tax. Many large criminal organizations such as the Mafia , the Cosa Nostra , the Chinese Triads or the Japanese Yakuza began with extortion as their main source of income, before they penetrated other illegal business areas such as narcotics crime, gambling, arms trafficking and white-collar crime. Rocker gangs also appear as protection racketeers.

The sociologist Diego Gambetta describes the Mafia as an "industry that creates, promotes and sells private protection". He sees the mafia as a provider of protection services. If there is a demand for protection and voluntarily paid for it, the provision of protection is considered a real service. The mafia can count on demand as long as there is mistrust in society. Restaurateurs who come from countries where there is little trust in the state authorities are often victims of protection racket in Germany. By only offering protection to certain customers, the mafia artificially creates a need for its range of services. However, this service is not provided through a market economy relationship, but within the framework of domination and trust. The person seeking protection and the mafioso do not trust each other. Nevertheless, the service business comes about because the customer gives the mafioso the right to demand his services. The person seeking protection allows himself to be integrated into the structures of the mafia.

The extortion of protection money is attributed to organized crime. This should be distinguished from illegal economies such as drug trafficking. These forms of exchange of goods and services are mutually agreed. Corruption - an act of exchange in which something is exchanged that should not actually be exchangeable - must also be distinguished from extortion of protection money, which is often based on physical violence.

Victims of protection rackets are usually shopkeepers and owners of small businesses, as they are locally bound and are considered solvent, and are unable to sustain major economic losses or initiate or maintain defensive measures. In Germany, Russian and Eastern European citizens are often affected.

to form

The most obvious form of extortion is when the blackmailer contacts the victim directly and enforces his "protection" through coercion by threatening physical violence against people or company assets in the greatest number of cases. In the established crime organizations in particular, less obvious forms of protection racket have developed, which are intended to conceal the actual act. In this way, the victims can also be forced into contracts in which overpriced or even pointless services or the purchase of goods from a certain supply source are agreed. In the context of these contracts, security guards or event security are actually offered and ordered goods are also delivered. Cases have also become known in which employment contracts are concluded in which certain persons are proposed to the employer as employees. They may then also be employed at excessive rates or are only formally on the payroll without offering their work. If the victim complies with the demands, it is usually no longer bothered - except for the provision of services. A new form of claiming protection money is digital extortion when the perpetrators use stolen data or illegally obtained access rights to extort protection money.

Protection racket is related to the Blackmail method , in which contact is made in writing, but as a rule a one-off service is required, which is to be transferred similar to the delivery of the ransom in the event of a kidnapping.


If a victim refuses to pay, there is a threat of economic and personal damage, which can lead to economic ruin or even death of the refuser; But even if the victims perform, they are seriously damaged.

Protection money has a similar effect as taxes for those affected. Concepts such as general taxation and tax progression can also be found in extensive protection money systems. According to surveys, for example, 70% of companies in Sicily should pay protection money, which speaks for the general public of protection money. Ultimately, racketeering has a significant and lasting impact on both businesses and the victims involved. In addition to the economic existence, which is often destroyed in the end, it weakens the economic cycle considerably through continuous and considerable depreciation, changes the equilibrium in markets and puts the victims under considerable - also psychological - pressure. The continuity of the threat distinguishes it from other, only situationally occurring forms of crime.

The blackmailer, on the other hand, is strengthened financially and economically by the services of the victims; this can lead to the fact that he seeks further victims and even leaves the collection of the financial benefits to third parties. In the case of services and goods delivery contracts, the blackmailer himself becomes a monopoly in principle. Many of the so-called Mustache Petes of the US American Cosa Nostra had a trading monopoly on vegetables, cheese and the like, which they had imported from Italy.

Protection money in different countries


In Germany, extortion of protection money is not a separate criminal offense within the meaning of the Criminal Code. Rather, it is a matter of complex criminal acts which, in different ways, include various criminal offenses, above all trespassing, property damage, coercion, bodily harm or even robbery blackmail.

If contracts are concluded through direct or indirect threats, these are also immoral and thus void according to Section 138 (1) BGB .


With the emergence of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily farmers had for their country nominal charge to the gabelloti which are large landowners pay. If they refused these amounts called pizzo or pizzu (Sicilian dialect expression pizzu , bird's beak. "Fari vagnari a pizzu": dip / moisten the beak, also "bagniusi u pizzu": bathe the beak), their lands were destroyed. Cosa Nostra and other Mafia organizations still charge these protection fees. They no longer do this by the farmers, but by business and shop owners.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica published a tariff list of what Sicilian business people have to pay to the mafia. Even small shopkeepers pay 500 to 1,000 euros per quarter, better shops such as jewelers have to surrender 3,000 euros, and large shops 5,000 euros. This does not apply to business people who have relatives in prison, who have a bereavement in their families or who have a police officer or carabiniere among their relatives. The problem is hushed up among businessmen. Almost everyone pays the protection money, but nobody wants to admit it. There are currently 160,000 companies and businesses being blackmailed across Italy, around three times as many as twenty years ago.

As those affected report, extortion almost always follows the same pattern at the beginning. It usually begins with an anonymous phone call in which the shop founder is warned to seek help. A few days later a more or less harmless attack is committed on the shop, for example by gluing the door lock with glue. While fear and perplexity creep in on the businessman, experienced colleagues advise to wait and see. After a few more days, someone stands in front of the door who kindly and unobtrusively asks for a small donation and usually receives it.

In addition to drug trafficking, the “Pizzo” is part of the core business. In Sicily alone, the mafia protection money brings in seven billion euros annually, in Italy 15.5 billion nationwide (as of 2006) . The total mafia sales are estimated by the state anti-mafia at 100 billion euros, twice as much as the sales of the car company Fiat.

Since the beginning of 2010 the anti-protection money movement AddioPizzo has been issuing a special city map for Palermo, which only shows businesses that have undertaken not to pay protection money to the mafia. The main target group of the plan are tourists who, in the interests of critical consumption, want to avoid supporting mafia structures with their holiday spending. The German embassy in Italy is funding the German version of this city map.

In April 2012 it became known that the long-time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had paid large sums of money to the mafia in the 1970s to protect himself and his family from kidnapping. Back then, the mafia in Italy repeatedly kidnapped wealthy people or their children in order to extort ransom. One of the most famous cases is that of John Paul Getty III . He was kidnapped in Rome in 1973; His ear was cut off and sent to a newspaper to back up the ransom demand. After five months in captivity, Getty was finally released for a ransom.

But there is also a tendency for businesspeople to band together to drive back the extortion of protection money. In the former Camorra stronghold of Ercolano on Vesuvius, more than 40 victims filed charges at the same time and thus achieved hundreds of convictions and arrests. The extortion of protection money could be counteracted through the cooperation of civic engagement, the police and the judiciary. In Palermo, too, business people succeeded in evading protection rackets.

Biblical Israel

A story that today could be called protection racket is reported in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel chapter 25. David , the future king of Israel, demanded payment for the protection of his flocks from Nabal , who refused. Then David and 400 men went against him. Nabal's wife, Abigajil, succeeded in preventing evil by means of a great gift and persuasion; later she became David's wife.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: protection racket  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  2. Mike Schnorrer: Organized crime - The necessity of a legal definition. (PDF) In: Master's thesis at the Police College. July 30, 2008, accessed November 22, 2015 .
  3. Rockers shot at the Sisha bar on Aachener Strasse. Kölnische Rundschau, April 23, 2015, accessed on November 23, 2015 .
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  7. ^ Karlhans Liebl: Economic and Organized Crime. Federal Agency for Civic Education, June 14, 2012, accessed on November 23, 2015 .
  8. ^ Rainer Dombois: Organizational dilemmas of the illegal economy: Sociological approaches using the example of the cocaine business. (PDF) Retrieved November 23, 2015 .
  9. Hella Engerer: Causes, consequences and combating corruption: Do economic approaches provide convincing arguments? (PDF) In: Discussion Paper No. 161 DIW Berlin. DIW, January 1998, p. 2 , accessed on November 23, 2015 .
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  14. ↑ Fight against crime in the restaurant sector. Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sport, February 18, 2010, accessed on November 23, 2015 .
  15. Kirstin Hausen: Sicily entrepreneurs are rehearsing the uprising against the mafia. Die Welt, July 19, 2010, accessed November 23, 2015 .
  16. ^ Annette Langer : Building contractor Ignazio Cutrò: Left alone with the Mafia. In: Spiegel Online. December 6, 2012, accessed November 23, 2015 .
  17. Crime: Mafia makes twice as much turnover as the Fiat group. In: Spiegel Online. January 20, 2005, accessed November 23, 2015 .
  18. Antje Blinda: City map shows Mafia-free shops. In: Spiegel Online. January 22, 2010, accessed November 22, 2015 .
  19. Berlusconi paid Mafia protection money. In: Zeit Online. April 25, 2012, accessed November 22, 2015 .
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