Over the decades, the criminal entity commonly known as the 'Italian Mafia' have turned a buck (or ten million) from bootlegging booze, smuggling heroin and cocaine, exorting shopkeepers and presidents, performing assassinations by contract - you name, and they've found a way to make money out of it.
But times are getting tough, even for the Mafia. There used to be a lot of money to made from olive oil, but now the Mafia has found something even more profitable.
Hijacking cheese trucks, particularly the ones carrying wheels of Parmasen.
From the UK Observer :
Gangs lie in wait at service stations on the Milan-Bologna motorway to ambush drivers when they stop for coffee. In one instance, a driver was threatened by four armed men, tied up and gagged, and his van carrying 300 wheels of cheese was driven away. The wheels were taken to an industrial estate, cut up and then sold in stores.
To counter the thefts, producers and the Italian farmers' union, Coldiretti, are experimenting with microchips hidden in the crusts of the cheese, which means they are more easily identifiable. Markings burnt on to the crust can also help police track the stolen cheese.
Although similar hard cheese is made all around the world, the authentic Parmesan comes from a specific area around Parma and Reggio Emilia and is made from cows' milk.
The average Italian family is said to eat half a kilo of Parmesan a week, mostly by sprinkling it on pasta.