-Much like the Sicilian Mafia, the American Mafia has no formal name, more nicknames than formal names and is a secret society.
-The members refer to it by the name 'Cosa Nostra' or English translation of "our thing"
-The Mafia emerged in New York's Lower East Side and other areas of the East Coast of the US during the late 19th century following scores of immigrants coming to the US, specifically the huge waves of Italian immigrants, especially from Sicily.
-It has roots in the Sicilian Mafia, but is different.
Neopolitan, Calabrian and other Italian criminal groups, merged with the Sicilians to create the Italian Mafia in the US
-It's most active in the New York metro area, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New England, Detroit, Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas
-In New York, there are 5 main "families" known as The Five Families.
1. The Gambinos
5. The Colombos
-Full members(made men) are Italian-American or Italian, other criminals of any ethnicity are employed as 'associates'
-Racketerring, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, extortion, fencing, illegal gambling, murder, prostitution
-Mafia refers to either the Sicilian or American Mafia. In modern day's use, when referring to the Mafia or for easier use, the mob, the word 'Mafia' could be used to describe other types of organized crime, such as The Russian Mafia, The Japanese Mafia(Yakuza), The Chinese Mafia(Triads), Jewish Mafia, Mexican Mafia, Irish Mafia.
Origins, the Black Hand
-Mafia groups in the US became popular in the New York area, progressing from small time neighborhood jobs in poor Italian ghettos to citywide and soon international work
-The Black Hand was a given name to an extortion method used in Italian neighborhoods at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.
-From the 1890s-1900s, in New York, the Sicilian Mafia turned into the Five Points Gang
-Mafia activities exploded into knowledge in the 1920s and 1930s because of Prohibition.
-An example is Alphonse 'Al' "Scarface" Capone. He is one of the most famous mobsters in history, ruling Chicago in the 1920s before eventually going away for tax evasion
-In Chicago, more mob figures were rising. Such as Salvatore Maranzano. Then along came Charles "Lucky" Luciano, who had become known as the Boss of All Bosses.
|Charles "Lucky" Luciano|
-Crimes include protection rackets, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, loan sharking, extortion, labor racketeering, labor unions, fencing
The RICO Act
-This stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
-Became a federal law, and highly effective tool
-Violation of this act can result in up to 20 years in prison
-This has proven to be very successful against mobsters because it attacks entire corrupt group instead of individuals.
-Between 1981-1992, 23 bosses from around the country were convicted under the law between 1981-1988, 13 underbosses and 43 captains arrested.
-In 1991, mob boss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano helped the FBI turn state's evidence , he helped the FBI convict top Mafia bosses in New York.
-The Mafia operates on a system of rank.
made men". This means they are untouchable, and that any foul done to them will be returned with consequences. There are 3 very high ranks.The highest job is administration. Below that, there are ranks headed by a caporegime(captain), who lead soldiers and associates. They report to the admin. and are seen as equivalent to managers. There are also family messenger and street boss jobs, which was created by Vincent "The Chin" Gigante.
- Boss. They are the head of the family. Sometimes called the Don or Godfather. The boss gets a cut of every job pulled, and the role of Don is sometimes chosen by the caporegimes of the family.
- Underboss. This job is usually appointed by the boss, they are the second in command for the family. They run the day-to-day operations and oversees the jobs. If the boss is imprisoned or killed, the underboss automatically becomes the boss
- Consigliere. Advisor to the family. Seen as the boss' right hand man. They are shown to be a mediator of fights, or aides in meetings with other families. They are the 3rd ranking member of a family. Someone who the Boss trusts very deeply will be the Consigliere(consultant in Italian)
- Caporegime(Captain). They are in charge of a crew. Soldiers report to him, and each crew consists of about 10-20 soldiers and many more associates. Sometimes a caporegime may hold more power than others, like in the case of Anthony Corallo, they might overstep the structure and lead the family when the boss dies.
- Soldier(Soldato in Italian). Member of the family and can, by tradition, be only of full Italian heritage. Once a member is made, he is untouchable. If someone is to be whacked(or killed in Mafia talk), the soldier must obtain direct orders from the top. When the books are open and recruiting new members, a made man can suggest an up and coming associate to be a soldier. The soldiers are the main workers of the family. They do the the dirty work, they commit the crimes, like assault, murder, robbery, extortion, intimidation, etc.
- Associate. Not a member of the Mafia, but works for a crime family. This can include a very wide range of people.
-The initiation ritual has emerged from various sources. How a man is "made" is the inductee would be led into a room where most of the bosses and underbosses are and one of these guys would poke the arm or hand of the inductee and have them smear blood all over a sacred image, usually a saint. That oath of loyalty would be taken as the image burned and scattered. This rite was confirmed by the first pentito, Tommaso Buscetta
1. Omerta. Oath or code of silence. Never talk to the authorities.
2. Ethnicity. Only men of full Italian heritage are allowed to become full members. Associates, partners, allies, etc, have no limit
3. Family secrets. Members are not to talk about family business to non members
4. Blood for Blood. If a family member is killed(by another member), no one can commit murder in revenge unless the boss gives the green light go ahead.
5. No fighting among members. From fist fights to knife fights.
6. Tribute. Every month, members must pay the boss
7. Adultery. Members are not allowed to commit adultery with another member's wife
8. No facial hair. Members are to stay clean shaven. No mustaches.
-Homosexuality is also reported as bad with the American Mafia code of conduct. In 1992, John D'Amato, the acting boss of the DeCavalcante Family was killed when the family learned of his homosexuality
Symbolism in murders
-For allowing an FBI agent named Joseph D. Pistone to infiltrate the Bonanno crime family, the caporegime Dominic "Sonny Black" Napolitano had his hands severed after he was killed. This was because he had Pistone shake hands and introduced to others as a "friend of ours" or a made man when he was not.
-When Lucchese crime family member Bruno Facciolo was killed, a dead canary was stuffed into his mouth after he was shot dead
-On April 18, 1980, Antonio Caponigro, who was a Philadelphia Mafia Consigliere, was killed without the approval of the family. Caponigro and his brother in law Alfred Salerno were taken to an abandoned hosue in upstate New York and tortured before being killed. Salerno was shot 3 times behind the right ear and once behind the left ear. The autopsy showed that a rope had been tied around his neck, wrists, and ankles, and msot of his neck and face bones were completely shattered. Caponigro was found suffocated, beaten, repeatedly stabbed and shot. His body was found in a garbage bag and $300 was found in his rectum as a sign he became greedy.
List of Mafia Families and Known Mobsters
-Chicago, IL. Chicago Outfit
-New York. Five Families.
1. The Gambino
2. The Genovese
3. The Bonnano
4. The Colombo
5. The Luccese
-New Jersey. The DeCavalcante
-NE Penn. The Bufalino
-Tampa, FL. The Trafficante family.
-Thomas "The Pitbull" Bilotti
-Rusell "The Old Man" Bufalino
-Al "Scarface" Capone
-Dominic "Sonny Black" Napolitano
-Tommy "Tommy Karate" Pitera
-Johnny "Handsome Harry" Stompanato
In Popular Culture
-The Mafia is one of Hollywood's biggest cash cows for movies. Early gangster films include Little Caesar(1931) and Scarface(1932)
-The best known Mafia films are The Godfather anad it's sequel. The books are based on Mario Puzo's novel. And also movies like Casino, Goodfellas, The Untouchables, Mobsters, Donnie Brasco, and TV film Gotti.
|Donnie Brasco. The characters Al Pacino and Johnny Depp are based on Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero and Joseph D. Pistone|
The one on the far left with his arms folded is one of my favorites on the show and my other favorite is the one holding the pool cue!!
-Other Mafia movies include Once Upon a Time in America, A Bronx Tale, Carlito's Way, American Gangster.
-On TV, The Sopranos tells the story of ficitional crime family the Soprano family, set in North Jersey.