B2 Reading Gapped Text Exam 3

The Mafia

The Mafia may be many things, but most importantly it is a business. It is a global business and its only reason to exist is to make money. It has a presence in Japan, Russia and in the US it absorbs one per cent of the GNP and deprives the US government of an estimated $30 billion in lost taxes.

In many American cities, but especially in New York, The Mafia controls the trucking, garment and construction businesses. It also controls the trade unions whose members work in these companies. The identical situation exists in Russia where 'The Uncle', a 73 year old Mafia leader, has made millions running underground textile factories all over Russia, according to The Independent Newspaper.

The Uncle, who was a political prisoner in one of Stalin's labour camps in the Thirties, quickly realised that common criminals got better treatment and wasted no time in joining them. They gave him an education in all the skills he would need, and since he came out of jail in 1953, he has been untouchable. He lives in a luxurious Moscow flat with a special reinforced steel front door.

He is a family man, like the godfather in the films, and takes good care of his body with regular tennis and massage sessions. He loves fashion and wears good clothes, has a wife 25 years his junior, and a daughter who lives a pampered life and spends hours in front of a mirror.

They live with constant fear as the uncle habitually uses hitmen. The Russian mafia differs from their American counterparts in that they are much more interested in consumer goods.

One businessman, who took his computer on business to Moscow, had to arrange for three cars packed with colleagues to meet him and protect him. The Japanese mafia, the yakuza, is very different. Japan has 80,000 yakuza, which, according to the Economist, is 20 times the membership of America's mafia. It has an identical business model however, drugs, extortion, protection, gambling and prostitution. The system is also different because it is Japanese which means it is very orderly. Crime in Japan, like everything else, is done in orderly, organised groups.

The consequence of this is that there is no room for confusion. Any criminal who mistakenly tried to collect protection money from an already protected street market, or pickpocket who dared to operate in a shopping centre protected by the yakuza would disappear, very quickly. One thing all the mafias have in common is that they are glorified. The Japanese mafia are glorified as the modern equivalent of the samurai and such glorification is also found in America and Russia. It is considered very 'cool' to be in the mafia. But isn't murder just murder? Apparently not if committed by the mafia.

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