What is the Mafia? Many people ponder the true definition of ?Mafia?. The literal translation of the word ?Mafia? means ?my daughter.? According to Rick Porello of American Mafia.com, the Mafia, more specifically the Italian-American Mafia, is a group of criminals organized into “families,” and operating primarily in North America. Also known as La Cosa Nostra, at one time there were 26 families in the United States – roughly one for each major city. The Mafia “commission,” composed of bosses of numerous families, mostly New York, was the overseeing authority for all of the other La Cosa Nostra families. The Mafia has its roots in Sicily, and South Italy where the larger and more powerful Sicilian Mafia operates. ?With Prohibition came the birth and growth spurt of nationally organized crime. Newly conceived Mafia families jockeying for power were waging battles that killed scores, frightened citizens, and gave birth to screaming headlines and grand funeral processions never before experienced in the New World. But it all began years ago and miles away.?(Porello, AmericanMafia.com) Vito Cascio Ferro is adhered to be the one man essentially responsible for establishing the communication between the Sicilian and U.S. Mafia (or the “Black Hand” as it was known in the early 1900’s). In 1900, Cascio Ferro came to New York with security from the Inglese family after having ascertained himself in the honored society in Sicily where he was accused of kidnapping, extortion, arson, and threatening officials. (Murderinc.com)
Basic operations of most Mafia families include extortion, labor rackets, hijacking, high-class robberies, gambling, narcotics trafficking, racketeering, contractual murder, and more recently, stock market frauds. In the stock market frauds, Mafiosi find out ahead of time what the fate of the stock is, whether it will decrease, increase, or split (when the stock, becomes double).
The five principal Mafia families are the New York families. The names of these families are The Bonanno Family, The Colombo Family, The Gambino Family, The Lucchese Family, and The Genovese Family. Out of all of these, the Genovese family is the omnipotent family, the Gambino being the second, Lucchese being the third, Colombo being the fourth, and Bonanno being the fifth. Other New York families are the Buffalo Faction. Other main families are, the Bruno family located in Philadelphia, Dragna Family located in Los Angeles, Balistrieri family in Milwaukee, Trafficante family of Florida. Another major faction is the Chicago faction. They also are one of the most dangerous Mafiosi in the United States. Al Capone, probably the most notable Mafia boss in U.S. history, once controlled this faction. ?There are forty to fifty ?made men? in the outfit. They are said to be forging new alliances with the other ethnic criminals, like the Russian mobs and the Chinese triads.?(Porello, Americanmafia.com) There are many other factions and families, but most of them do not have a family name like the others. Some of the other families with names are so inconsequential, that the FBI has not posted their name.
When some people think of the Mafia, they think of New York City, or maybe Chicago. However, for a long time, there were roughly twenty-six American Mafia “families” going strong across the United States and in Canada. The ?Mafia Cities? are New York NY, Buffalo NY, Rochester NY, Chicago IL, Rockford IL, Cleveland OH, Dallas TX, Milwaukee WI, Boston MA, New Orleans LA, St Louis MO, Kansas City MO, Denver CO, Tampa FL, San Jose CA, Los Angeles CA, San Francisco CA, Pittsburgh PA, Philadelphia PA, Scranton PA, Wilkes-Barre PA, Pittston PA, and Detroit MI. There are also families in Miami FL, and unessential groups in Las Vegas NA.
The current bosses are Joseph Massino of the Bonanno Family. The boss of the Gambino Family is in dispute at this point to due to the fact that John Gotti Jr., (son of famous John Gotti Sr.), has been indicted on charges of racketeering, and conspiracy. The boss of the Genovese Family is Dominick ?Quiet Dom? Cirillo. The boss of the Colombo family is Andrew Russo. The boss of the Lucchese Family is Steve DeFede. John ?No Nose? DiFronzo is postulated to be the new boss of the infamous Chicago faction.
Some of the bosses are under investigation except for Cirillo, and Massino. ?Steve DeFede has been indicted on charges of racketeering. John Gotti Jr. has been indicted on racketeering and conspiracy. Andrew Russo was leveled with a racketeering, obstruction of justice, and jury tampering charge against him.? (AmericanMafia.com)
There are also numerous famous mob bosses throughout history. Carlo Gambino was the boss of the Gambino family who silently led his family to the top of the rest of the families. Charles ?Lucky? Luciano was Genovese family boss who integrated the Sicilian and Italian mobs after a major Mafia war in New York. Luciano was the man who devised the National Mafia Syndicate. Santo Trafficante was boss of the Tampa family who was heavily involved in the Havana casinos and in all likelihood in the JFK assassination. Alphonse ?Scarface? Capone was the disreputable Chicago gangster who procured his notoriety during the time of Prohibition by use of his brutality. Albert Anastasia, Gambino boss who started Murder Inc., the organization that resulted in the murders of over 400 men during Anastasia’s reign. John Gotti Sr. some say is possibly the most famous gangster in history, Gotti was a puissant Gambino boss who is now serving a life sentence in Marion, Illinois for murder conspiracy and racketeering charges. These are probably the most famous mobsters in history. (?MAFIA? Joe Dorgio, 120-175)
There have been major developments in the underworld. According to the New York Police Department, a lot of arrests, indictments, deaths, and convictions have been made. In addition, the NYPD states that the Mafia is languidly dwindling away. In some areas such as San Jose, San Francisco, and Milwaukee, the families have faded away. In St Louis, Kansas City, Tampa, and other cities, the families are very small in number and not as intimidating. (New York Police Department.)
Federal Agents are looking into possible contacts between the Gambino family, and the country?s most profitable adult nightclub. Three Gambino family capos plead guilty to charges of racketeering and illegal gambling. Once a potential boss for the Gambinos?, Nick Corozzo pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and where will face ten years in prison. Gambino boss, John Gotti Jr. will be returning to jail at his request, to await trial for racketeering. Gotti attorneys said that their client is unable to make weekly payments of 4,500 dollars, for a twenty-four hour bodyguard, which was imposed as one of many restrictions on his 10 million-dollar bail package. A small time drug dealer, Jenaro Colon, is set to testify at John Gotti Jr?s trial, saying that Gotti?s men robbed him of drugs and money, at knife and gun point. Lucchese capo, Anthony ?Bouat? Baratta pleads guilty for trying to deal drugs from his prison cell. Colombo family boss, Andrew Russo, was found guilty of jury tampering and obstruction of justice. Former Genovese family boss, Vinny ?The Chin? Gigante was sent to prison after a 1997 conviction on murder conspiracy and racketeering charges. The FBI now believes that the New Orleans family was directly involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. They also believe that members of the Buffalo Faction, and the Gambino family were trying to gain a new foothold in Las Vegas. Members of the Pittsburgh family were indicted for attempting to extort money out of a Native American casino. The Pittsburgh family is said to be one of the most powerful Mafia family today. They are expected to move into Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio. The boss of this faction is James Genovese. (AmericanMafia.com)
Most of the other families in other cities such as Los Angeles, and Rockford, etc. have faded away or they are just too small of a threat to our society. Many mobsters now are ?retiring? because there is nothing left for them in the family. A lot of them are going to the DA and making deals to testify against their colleagues in their trial. Take the Gambino family for example, at one point they had over 250 members and hundreds of connections with police and judges, and even Senators! Now they have less than half the members they originally had. It has become very hard for the Mafia to hold a strong foot in society today. Unlike the 20?s, and 30?s when forensic evidence was not available to the jury. In those times, Mafiosi could get away with almost anything. As long as they had, cash and ?muscle.?
In conclusion, one thing is certain; the Mafia is unequivocally not as powerful like ?the old times? as many Mafiosi would call it. Rarely do we see a ?Godfather? type of Mafioso. John Gotti for instance, was the classic Godfather of the 1980?s and 1990?s, wearing 1000, or 2000 dollar suits. He looked more like a C.E.O. of a massive company than most people?s idea of a common Mafia hood. Why are we fascinated with the Mafia? Well the answer to this question is quite simple. In a way, we all want be Mafiosi: to command respect from other people; to be free of the workaday job, day in, day out; to not be susceptible from the petty laws that are emerging; to have so much money that a hundred dollar tip to a barman or waiter is of no consequence; to live an exciting life; to be able to snap our fingers and strike terror into the heart of some rude petty official or oaf; to have beautiful women posing as ornaments, in the knowledge that if one tires of them, one can immediately replace them with others equally beautiful, and equally compliant. The root of this fascination lies in the fact that the life style of the Mafia appears more glamorous and interesting then the lives that most of us lead. Therefore, the answer to the question ?Is the Mafia Still a Major Part of American Society?? well the answer to this question is yes, and no. Yes, the crime families still exist, in a major way in some areas, and not so major in other areas. Yes, the Mafia is a major part of our society because of countless movies, and many depictions glorifying the Mafia. The ?Mafia Man? has come to be a well-known character. But, no, the Mafia is also not a major part of society anymore, because it is not as publicized as it was back in the 70?s and 80?s, and simply, it is just too ?hard? for the Mafia to become very powerful. Many officials and people say that the power of the Mafia on legitimate enterprises has been eradicated. Perhaps they are right?perhaps not.