- A police raid at an Italian cannabis farm found 235 frozen dormice.
- Baked mice are a delicacy served at mafia banquets.
- The creatures are protected by law but still hunted for human consumption.
Police raided a cannabis farm in Calabria, southern Italy, and found 235 frozen dormice, a favored mafia delicacy.
The raid, on October 16th, revealed a stash of 235 frozen dormice alongside 700 cannabis plants.
Three people were arrested for the production of drugs, la Repubblica newspaper reports.
Wildlife advocacy groups explain that baked dormice are served to high-ranking gangsters at banquets organized by the powerful Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan.
The creatures are protected by law, but Italian wildlife protection organization Lipu told the BBC that poachers hunt out the tiny mice in the Aspromonte hills to sell them to mobsters and restaurants.
While mafia movies may depict shady deals made over whisky and cigars, its dormice that serve as the traditional meal underpinning the criminal underworld culture. Eating them is a sign of respect for the organization, according to La Repubblica.
“Investigations have shown they are common at ‘Ndrangheta banquets and are put on the table when agreements must be reached, or peace pacts between clans must be made,” Ciro Troiano, an expert with the Italian animal protection society Lav, told The Times.
The mice have been eaten for millennia. In ancient Rome, they were served as a dessert with honey and poppy seeds.
The mice are still considered a delicacy in Croatia and Slovenia.
Read the original article on InsiderInternet Explorer Channel Network