In recent years, official reports, the academic literature and the media have dedicated increased attention to foreign criminal groups in Italy. The actual nature of foreign criminal organisations, and particularly their comparability to Italian mafias, is still under researched. This study explores the application of the offence of mafia-type association (Article 416-bis of the Criminal Code) to foreign criminal organisations. It analyses the theoretical applicability of the offence as well as statistics and jurisprudence of relevant cases. Results show that the offence of mafia-type association is theoretically applicable to foreign criminal groups. However, the number of cases is very low. This is due to two concurring factors: foreign criminal groups do not always have the same characteristics of domestic mafias (stability, continuity, use of the mafia method); the evidentiary difficulties have brought the prosecution and the courts to apply other offences, carrying high penalties but without the need to prove the mafia method.
Keywords: Foreign criminal groups in Italy, offence of mafia-type association, Italian mafias, mafia method, criminal groups.