"The Calabrian family gangs (again the meaningless journalistic term ’Ndrangheta blurs their diversity) who delivered the cocaine northwards were and are incapable of coping with the reverse flow of used euros, zlotys and rubles. Their first need was to pay the Colombian suppliers, who refused to accept cash because it was no good for investing in Miami real estate or local hotels and restaurants. The Calabrians needed real money: not bundles of paper but deposits in bank accounts that could be wired to the Colombians. Their second need was to have their own laundered money, to invest in property: Umbria became a particular favourite, as did the high streets of major cities. Ignorant of foreign languages, unfamiliar with international banking practices, the semi-literate Calabrians could supply cocaine to distributors but turned to the Sicilians to launder their profits. With a century of experience in the export trade and the fluent English of educated men, the Sicilians organised the system – still operating today – that sends banknotes from Calabria to Beirut, Dubai, Kaliningrad and other places where money-changers will accept vast sums in many currencies, paying for them with personal cheques that can be deposited in local banks. Funds can then be wired to commercial accounts in Western Europe, perhaps by way of an additional passage (Cyprus was a favoured way until the Sicilians were scared away by those formidable bank robbers the European Commission and the ECB)."
The Honoured Society