Sacra Corona Unita

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Sacra Corona Unita, (SCU) or United Sacred Crown, is a Mafia-like criminal organization from Apulia (in Italian Puglia) region in Southern Italy, and is especially active in the areas of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto .


Background and activities

The SCU was originally founded in the late 1970s as the Nuova Grande Camorra Pugliese (current Società foggiana) by Camorra boss Raffaele Cutolo, who wanted to expand his operations into Puglia. However a few years later with the downfall of Cutolo the organization began operating alone under the leadership of Giuseppe Rogoli. Under his leadership the SCU mixed Pugliese interests and opportunities with 'Ndrangheta and Camorra traditions. Originally preying on Puglia's substantial wine and olive oil industries, the group moved into fraud, gunrunning and drug trafficking and made alliances with international criminal organizations such as the Russian and Albanian mafias, Colombian drug cartels, Chinese Triads, and Japanese Yakuza.

The SCU is made up of three distinct groupings or levels. Members can 'graduate' from one level to the next by going through riti battesimali (baptismal rites). The religious symbolism is probably left over from the SCU's association with the Camorra[citation needed].

The lowest level, the Società Minore, is made up of lower-level criminals who do street-level activities. Members start out as picciotti and go through a 40-day trial to ensure they are suitable for criminal work and are not associated with the police. They are then inducted into the next phase of the level, the manovalanza, or worker. The candidate must also swear an oath of devotion to SCU.

The second level, the Società Maggiore, is made up of two positions. The Lo Sgarro position is given only to members who have killed at least three people for SCU, and from now on members cannot leave, on pain of death. Members can now form their own crew of picciotti, known as a filiale. Upon indoctrination into the La Santa position the member is given a firearm (to symbolically use on oneself upon failing SCU), a cyanide pill, cotton (representing Monte Bianco, which is considered sacred), a lemon (treating the wounds of one's comrades), a needle to puncture the index finger of the right hand, handkerchiefs (representing purity of spirit) and a spartenza (a gift of some sort, usually cigarettes). [1]

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