Even the most resourceful PR agent would have their work cut out improving the profile of ‘ndrangheta, the fearsome mafia group that runs half of Europe’s cocaine trade.
But if such a task were attempted, the ‘ndrangheta boss Giuseppe Puglisi might be asked to head the campaign.
This week the 53-year-old gangster hit the headlines for all the right reasons after it emerged he had worked tirelessly at weekends as a Red Cross volunteer.
Arriving with his badge and a copy of the bible, Puglisi was qualified to ride on the organisation’s ambulances and, according to Corriere Della Sera, saved lives with a defibrillator.
Colleagues at the Red Cross centre in Cermenate, near Lecco, in north Italy didn’t have a bad word to say about him. He was a “good man” and “never demonstrated any signs of malice”, said other Red Cross personnel.
Following mass arrests this month that saw the mobster-volunteer rounded up with 39 other ‘ndrangheta suspects, the Red Cross’s Cermenate accountant Danilo Fasola defended the decision to use Puglisi, who it emerged has past convictions for mafia and drugs offences.
“But what are we supposed to do, live with a culture of suspicion?” Mr Fasola said. “With us he behaved very well.”