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It should be noted in Real Life that there are in fact two Mafias: the Sicilian Mafia and the American Mafia. The first has operated in Sicily at least since the unification of Italy (and possibly much longer, though most of their history has been heavily romanticized). It limits its membership to Sicilian males with no police relatives, and despite massive prosecutions in Italy and starting from the 1980s, they still have a heavy presence in Sicily today. They accomplished this by sending politicians on their payroll straight to Parliament, and sadly the reveal of an MP sitting in the national anti-Mafia commission to have ties or suspected ties with Cosa Nostra is not that infrequent.

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Historians are still somewhat unsure as to when and where exactly the Mafia began on Sicily, as the Mafia itself has tended to heavily romanticize and exaggerate its own history. But Sicily semi-frequently facing various invasions by bigger powers throughout history, having been on the hands on the hands of the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, and Spanish Aragon, and finally Italy (a citizen of Sicily identifying as a Sicilian rather than an Italian is not uncommon today), definitely played a role in creating a general distrust towards any outside authorities claiming dominion. What is also established, is that the Mafia's structure and hierarchy shows a clear inspiration from customs and ideals upheld by Roman noble families.

The American Mafia began with loosely-knit protection gangs known as Black Hands, taking orders from emigrated Sicilian mafiosi. Charles "Lucky" Luciano, both a member of the Sicilian Mafia (under Joe Masseria) and a graduate of the infamous Italian-American Five Points Gang, drew members from other parts of Italy (or rather, other parts of Little Italy) under his umbrella, knocked off the old hats (known in the day as "Mustache Petes"), and reorganized the American Mafia along territorial lines (doing away with gangs based on where in Italy the mafiosi's families were from). Each city in the country was given to one family, except for New York, which famously got five. This structure, along with the "Commission" (an executive body designed for resolving disputes, which included at its inception the bosses of the Five Families, the boss from Buffalo, and Chicago boss Al Capone, and at times included other families such as Philadelphia and Detroit; the modern "Commission" now consists of the bosses of the Five Families and the boss of the Chicago Outfit) is generally believed to have held up today, despite heavy law enforcement pressure. Modern-day candidates for "made guys" must be "of Italian descent," which can mean varying things according to which family is making the decision; some families, such as the Chicago Outfit, do not heavily stress the "made guy" role and do a lot of business with associates of non-Italian ethnicity (indeed, the "Chicago Outfit" was originally a coalition of many ethnic gangs, including Irish, Italians, Jews, and Poles, under the leadership of Al Capone's predecessor Johnny Torrio, who all agreed not to interfere with the other gangs' bootlegging operations; the Italians, being the most organized and having connections to the massive operations in New York, were merely first among equals); other families, such as the Bonannos, have substantial "zip" (imported Sicilian mafiosi) crews and are more stringent as to whom they do business with.

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Both Mafias (and similar Italian groups such as the Camorra,note  Sacra Corona Unita,note  the 'Ndranghetanote  and the Corsican mafianote ) generally operate in the same manner: collection of protection money, "street taxes" on independent criminals, union racketeering, out-and-out larceny, and gambling make up most of the income, with drug money and prostitution being big moneymakers for some parts of the family. Each "rank" within the Mafia taxes the one below it (fixed sums for capos, a percentage for soldiers and associates); money only goes from downstream to upstream. Despite the law of omertà and considerable sanctions for speaking to law enforcement, a number of mafiosi in both countries (and one boss, Joe Massino) have turned state's evidence/become a pentito (Italian term for the same thing) to save themselves from long prison terms.

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As a bit of a sidebar, different families have different reputations, accurate or not. These are particularly strong with the non-New York mob (the New York mob being seen as the "vanilla" Mafia): the Detroit Partnership is noted for its brutality and its connections with the unions (that whole Teamsters/Jimmy Hoffa business? Detroit), the Philly Mob is known for being totally violent and dysfunctional (especially under Nicodemo Scarfo, who ran it like an iron-fisted tyrant), the Tampa Mafia for its complex relationship with Cubans and longing for the halcyon days of the '50s (when the Cubans were in Cuba as partners instead of being in Miami as rivals), the Los Angeles mob is often seen as weak and incompetent (nicknamed the "Mickey Mouse Mafia"), the Chicago Outfit is inextricably linked in the public imagination to bootlegging and Al Capone, etc. The New York and Chicago mobs (particularly the latter) are often seen as having influence beyond their region. New York families have strong influence in Montreal, New Jersey, and Philadelphia — often playing kingmaker in these outfits (see, e.g.: Philip "The Chicken Man" Testa—you know the one they blew up in Philly last night— whose death was the result of tensions between pro- and anti-New York factions in the Philly mob; see also the most famous depiction of a non-New York, non-Chicago American Mafia outfit). Meanwhile, Chicago has traditionally controlled everything west of it.

In addition to the traditional "bread-and-butter" crimes such as loansharking, bookmaking, armed robbery, illegal gambling, extortion, prostitution, fencing, drug trafficking (since the 1940s) and murder (see Murder, Inc.), the American Mafia has even branched out to other areas, such as bootlegging and gunrunning, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. They even ventured out into other crimes such as labor racketeering (union shakedowns, embezzling from workers' benefit plans, rigging union elections so they could place mob-friendly candidates, coercing companies into hiring mob-controlled union workers, and providing no-show jobs to mobsters), political corruption (the Mafia had corrupt government officials and politicians on their payroll), white-collar crimes (financial crimes, confidence tricks, tax evasion, money laundering, mail and wire fraud), cybercrimes (identity theft, Internet fraud, cyber-extortion) and shaking down legitimate businesses such as restaurants, construction companies and waste disposal. What made the American Mafia different from other ethnic criminal gangs was their unique chain of command, which was set up to insulate the higher-ups from law enforcement heat AND that they were able to infiltrate legitimate institutions of society such as businesses and political institutions in a way no other criminal society has ever done before.

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The Mafia's History:

    Origins and the Castellammarese War 
The American Mafia started out as street-level gangsters, originating as Black Hand Loan Sharks and extortion rings in the early 1900s. The Five Points Gang became notorious in the 1910s and 1920s, a brief Mob War with the Camorra ended with the Camorra being decimated by informants and the remnants being absorbed into the Mafia, and with the advent of Prohibition, many mobsters quickly became bootleggers thanks to a nationwide ban on alcohol sales. Mussolini's crackdown on the Sicilian Mafia in the 1920s also changed things, as many mafiosi escaped to set up shop in America. However, it also led to numerous gangland and turf wars, especially in New York and Chicago, as the Italians were fighting not only among themselves, but with other ethnic gangs for control over booze rackets. In Chicago, the Neapolitan Al Capone duked it out with not only the Sicilian Mafia, but also with Bugs Moran and the Irish Mob. But it was the New York war, known as the Castellammarese War (because one of the warring factions came from Castellammare del Golfo, a small town in western Sicily) which ultimately changed the course of the Mafia, and organized crime in general, forever.

The Castellammarese War began when Joe "the Boss" Masseria, head of the Morello (later Genovese) crime family, began to strong-arm the other Italian gangs — especially the Brooklyn-based Castellammarese Clan, which was led by Salvatore "Little Caesar" Maranzano — in exchange for a hefty "street tax" to him. But Maranzano refused to kowtow before Masseria, and soon enough, both sides went to war in 1929. Masseria had a slight advantage in terms of manpower, but the Castellammarese were much more cohesive thanks to their military-style hierarchy and Maranzano's charismatic leadership. However, as time passed, it slowly became a generational conflict between the old guard Sicilian leadership, derisively nicknamed Mustache Petes, and a new faction of younger, Americanized mobsters called the Young Turks. Led by Charles "Lucky" Luciano, the Young Turks believed that the Mustache Petes were too old-fashioned and had to go. To do this however, Luciano had to kill his own boss in order to make peace with Maranzano. So Masseria was taken out to a Coney Island restaurant in April of 1931, where he was killed while playing cards with Luciano; reportedly, Luciano excused himself to the restroom, when Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese, Bugsy Siegel and Joe Adonis abruptly burst in and opened fire at Masseria.

After Masseria's death, Maranzano immediately called together several hundred mobsters at an undisclosed location in upstate New York. Despite introducing many of the rules that still govern the Mafia, such as the induction ceremony, omertà and unquestionable obedience to mob superiors, Maranzano declared himself boss of all bosses, rankling the Young Turks and reneging on the peace deal he made with Luciano, who preferred a power-sharing arrangement. Having realized they just replaced one despot with another, the Young Turks decide to kill him. They knew the Boss of Bosses was bogged down with IRS audits like Al Capone before him, and using this info, they sent hitmen disguised as tax agents to Maranzano's office in September of 1931; despite putting up a fight, Maranzano was garroted, stabbed and shot multiple times.

In the aftermath of the Maranzano hit, it was originally believed a mass purge of Mustache Petes took place in late 1931. These rumors were seemingly confirmed by Joe Valachi's testimony in later years, but despite a few old-timers in Pittsburgh, Newark and Los Angeles being killed off, this theory has been since debunked.

    The Rise and Fall of Lucky Luciano 
With the old guard out of the way, it paved the path for Luciano's rise to power. As an alternative to the previous despotic practice of having a mob overlord, he not only restructured the American Mafia by introducing a Commission to resolve disputes among the various families, but also branched out to work with other ethnic mobs, including the Jewish mafia and the Irish Mob, to form a National Crime Syndicate. To ensure the other mobsters are falling in line, Luciano even formed a Brooklyn-based gang of Italian and Jewish gunmen called Murder, Inc. to function as the Syndicate's enforcement arm; it was led by Albert Anastasia and Louis Buchalter, who were both notorious hitmen and labor racketeers. Murder, Inc. may have committed as many as 900 murders between 1931 and 1951. Plus, the money Luciano and his allies earned from traditional crimes enabled them to expand into other areas, such as labor unions, construction, and political corruption. Part of the reason why Luciano chose a panel of bosses overseeing the Mafia is because he noticed what happened to Masseria and Maranzano when they declared themselves boss of bosses — the power went into their heads, and they immediately ill-treated their henchmen.

The Commission functions as the mob's version of a board of governors, where the various bosses would have sit-downs with each other and resolve issues before they got out of hand, as well as vote on things that might require inter-family cooperation, such as construction or narcotics. This way, the mob could operate more efficiently rather than waging costly turf wars that not only attracted attention, but also slowed everything to a standstill. Also, the Commission members were to hold meetings every five years to talk about issues plaguing the underworld, unless there was a major emergency that required everyone's attention. The original Commission in 1931 composed of the Five Families, the Buffalo mob and the Chicago Outfit, though other cities such as Philadelphia and Detroit have had seats on the Commission at times.

Luciano, being an equal-opportunity gangster, encouraged his peers to work with each other and with other ethnic groups, noting how older mafiosi opposed their younger members' desire to work with the powerful Jewish and Irish gangs, let alone fellow Italians. The Young Turks wanted to branch out, realizing the numerous ways they could rake in money, but were frequently stymied by the Mustache Petes. The Young Turks soon concluded that these dinosaurs were too dead-set and archaic in their ways to see the boons of working with each other and with non-Italians. Luciano also believed that the initiation ceremony was a Sicilian anachronism. However, Lansky and Genovese persuaded Luciano to keep the ritual, arguing that young people needed rituals to promote obedience to the family, and as well as to placate Sicilians. Luciano remained committed to omertà, the oath of silence, to protect the families from legal prosecution, and retained the structure that Maranzano established.

One of the first major problems the Commission faced was when Albert Anastasia overheard Dutch Schultz's plot to kill US Attorney Thomas Dewey and brought it to their attention. Almost immediately, the bosses kiboshed the proposal, knowing what could happen to them if a federal official was killed, and the Commission instead had Schultz killed on October 23, 1935. However, things didn't go well for Luciano, and he was deported back to Italy in 1946 following his conviction for running a prostitution ring; he later formed ties with the Sicilians to distribute drugs into the United States.

    Havana, Las Vegas and Casinos 
With the money they made from bootlegging, this enabled the Mafia to branch out into other areas, such as labor racketeering, political corruption and infiltrating legitimate interests to cover up their activities. In the 1940s, Lansky made inroads into the casino industry in Cuba while the Mafia was already involved in exporting Cuban sugar and rum. When his friend Fulgencio Batista became president of Cuba in 1952, the mob was able to make legitimate investments in legalized casinos. Under Batista's rule, Havana became known as "the Latin Las Vegas" and the Mafia's new personal playground, thanks to the numerous Mob-owned casinos and brothels that were operating. Not only this, Cuba served as one of the main transfer points for drug shipments from Europe and the Middle East to various US port cities controlled by the mob. In late 1946, the major bosses secretly met in Havana to discuss the gambling opportunities in Las Vegas, whether or not to join the growing narcotics trade, as well as why Bugsy Siegel, a longtime ally of Luciano and Lansky, was now becoming a liability for them.

Siegel had been sent out to Las Vegas to oversee construction of the new Flamingo Hotel since the early 1940s. However, Luciano and his allies became increasingly wary of Siegel, as they wondered how the projected budget of $1 million somehow ballooned to $6 million, and suspected he and his mistress Virginia Hill were skimming off mob money for their personal interests and planned to escape should the project fail. Despite Lansky's attempts to have Siegel spared, the bosses' patience wore out, and Bugsy was killed in his Los Angeles home by a gunman on June 20, 1947. When the American government got wind of Luciano staying in Cuba in hopes of sneaking back into the United States illegally, they immediately threatened to halt all medical supplies unless the Cubans expel Luciano, to which the Cubans caved in and deported him to Genoa, Italy.

By the late 1950s, Batista, who was becoming increasingly unpopular with the lower and middle classes, was in the midst of trying to brutally suppress a growing communist rebellion led by Fidel Castro. Despite generous support from the CIA, Batista was unable to crush the rebellion, and he was forced to flee in 1959 to Portugal, allowing Castro to seize power and align himself with the Soviets. Viewing them as symbols of capitalist decadence and immorality, Castro then began to nationalize all American-owned industries and shutter down the Mafia-owned brothels and casinos, causing the mob to lose millions and set their eyes on Las Vegas, as well as work with the CIA in having Castro overthrown, but those attempts later became PR disasters, especially when the Americans imposed an economic embargo that still stands to this day.

    Narcotics, Apalachin and the Valachi Hearings 
It was at this time that the Mafia started dabbling in drug-running, but it immediately split into two camps: those in favor believed it was a lucrative operation and not being involved meant that the Italians would eventually be crushed by their competitors, while those opposed thought it would bring attention. Those in favor eventually won out, and many mobsters began dealing with other traffickers to import narcotics into America. Joe Bonanno had henchmen deep in their neck with drugs, even setting up a crew in Canada to import heroin into the United States; this was the reason why the Bonannos were derisively nicknamed the Heroin family. Carlo Gambino, boss of the Gambino family, used Zips (imported Sicilian mafiosi) to import heroin via his cousins, while Vito Genovese was imprisoned on presumably trumped up charges of drug dealing. Despite an unofficial "ban" on narcotics trafficking being imposed in the 1950s, many families often dealt on the sly, and bosses such as Paul Castellano and Vincent Gigante turned a blind eye to it as long as nobody was pinched and they got their cut of the drug sales their men generated.

The Kefauver hearings in 1951 determined that a vast criminal conspiracy operated by Italian mobsters did exist behind the scenes, and the Apalachin Summit in late 1957 really confirmed its existence. The 1957 meeting was set up by Vito Genovese, Luciano's former underboss, who aimed to wrest control of the Luciano family from Frank Costello, his Arch-Enemy and to become the mob's overlord after killing Anastasia, the boss of the Mangano (now Gambino) family in October 25, 1957. Around 100 mobsters attended the meeting at this small town not far from Binghamton, NY, but it turned into a big disaster when a curious state trooper got wind of it and sent in reinforcements to arrest them. More than 60 mobsters were caught including Genovese himself; others nabbed include Carlo Gambino, Paul Castellano, Giuseppe Profaci and Santo Trafficante. Tommy Lucchese, Stefano Magaddino and Sam Giancana themselves eluded capture, but Joe Bonanno wasn't so lucky, as he ended up being caught by state troopers in a nearby cornfield despite claiming he was there to visit a friend. The other bosses blamed Genovese for the debacle surrounding Apalachin, and he ended up in prison for presumably trumped-up charges on narcotics trafficking in 1959.

Another big blow to the mob came in 1963, when a low-level soldier named Joe Valachi became the first made man to openly flip by providing the government a good glimpse into the inner workings of the Mafia in front of a Senate subcommittee on organized crime on national TV. With regards to Valachi, while there have been others who have turned rat before he became one, he was the first one to openly admit being a police informant. Due to these recent developments, the Commission imposed a 20-year halt on inducting wannabes with a few exceptions, before "reopening the books" in the late 1970s to replenish the depleted ranks.

Also at this time, President John F. Kennedy gets assassinated on November 22, 1963, putting a screeching halt to the government inquiries about the Mafia's operations for the time being. Although Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and identified as the gunman, numerous irregularities in the record — along with Oswald's own murder by a mob-connected nightclub owner named Jack Ruby — soon gave rise to numerous arguments about who really killed Kennedy over the years by Conspiracy Theorists. While the Mafia had legitimate gripes about Kennedy's younger brother Bobby hounding them down in the aftermath of the Valachi hearings and Apalachin Conference, it remains a murky debate to this day as to whether or not there was an anti-Kennedy cabal (which included the Mafia itself, right-wing hardliners, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, rogue elements within the American government, Fidel Castro himself, the KGB and the Israeli government) that ordered Kennedy's death, and is best discussed elsewhere.

    Donnie Brasco, the Commission Case and Mafia Informants 
Despite a sluggish start, law enforcement slowly began putting more effort into cracking down on organized crime, and the passage of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in 1970 enabled prosecutors to build cases against individual mobsters and their families. By the 1980s, the feds were able to crack down on the Mafia's activities, culminating in the Commission Case, which was spearheaded by Rudy Giuliani, an ambitious US attorney and future mayor of New York who contemptuously felt the Mafia was an eyesore for honest Italian Americans. Plus, the successful undercover sting operation by FBI agent Joe Pistone, who infiltrated one of the Mafia crews, irreparably shattered the myth that the mob is invincible, further securing evidence against countless mafiosi. Thanks to stronger gambling control laws passed by the Nevada legislature in the 1970s, it allowed corporations to take over casinos, further weakening the Mafia's hold on Las Vegas, aside from the aforementioned RICO Act, which has proven to be a very powerful weapon as it allows prosecutors to go after an entire organization, rather than just individuals, thus closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who ordered someone else to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally; another provision in RICO forces violators to give up any ill-gotten gains and post a performance bond in lieu of having assets frozen. It acts as an insurance policy, in that it was to make sure there was something to seize if there was a guilty verdict, as mobsters habitually ran away with the funds of indicted companies. Cases against mobsters in cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago also weakened the Mafia in those areas as well. The success of RICO's application in the Commission Case later enabled prosecutors to go after other criminal enterprises.

With many mobsters facing long prison sentences, they simply began to spill the beans left and right in 1990s. Aside from Joe Valachi, among the more notable stool pigeons was Sammy Gravano, whose testimony helped take down John Gotti, Vincent Gigante and others in the 1990s; Joe Massino was another example, when he became the first official boss to become an informant in 2005. Phil Leonetti, Alphonse D'Arco, Jimmy Fratianno, Gaspipe Casso (though he was later thrown out), and Salvatore Vitale were also good examples of mobsters becoming turncoats. Other tactics the feds used in obtaining information against mobsters included constant surveillance photos of mafiosi hanging out near their usual joints, using lip-reading experts, wire-tapping their telephones after obtaining a court order, placing "bugs" in Mafia social clubs and haunts, and having an undercover cop or informant wear a Hidden Wire or Tracking Device, though that runs the risk of them getting killed if a "pat-down" was done and the person wearing the wire was forced to strip down. To frustrate the feds' efforts, the Mafia sometimes used "walks and talks" to avoid being heard on bugs and to prevent lip-reading experts from picking up their conversations by covering their mouths or whispering, avoid using telephones for fear of their conversations getting recorded, do "pat-downs" to see if someone is wearing a wire, and have their Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club swept for bugs regularly. While these tactics significantly crippled many Mafia families around the country, the most powerful families remain dominant in their turf, even if the new laws put more mobsters in jail and made it harder to operate.

    The Present Day 
Despite these convictions and informants, and with the FBI now focusing more on terrorism since 9/11, the Mafia is down but not out: it remains a formidable force and is quietly rebuilding its lost power base, as it's rumored to earn between $50 and $90 billion a year from its rackets. Plus, it now outsources some of its work to other gangs to avoid attention. And though many remain concerned about a possible resurgence of the Mafia as it regroups from the turmoil of the 80s and 90s, it's not much of a concern to law enforcement compared to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda or more recent criminal elements such as the Russian Mafia, Chinese Triads, and Mexican drug cartels. Also, while other ethnic gangs have grabbed a share of the loot, none of them have reached the level of success the Mafia enjoyed over the years, partly due to its totem pole-like hierarchy, and it still remains a dominant criminal organization.

Criminal Activities The Mafia Is Involved In:

The Mafia does love to get their hands dirty in any illegitimate activity, be it construction or illegal gambling.

    White-collar Crimes 
  • Labor racketeering: The Mafia became very notorious for infiltrating labor unions, especially in the construction, garbage hauling, food services, cargo/airport services and clothing sectors. Tommy Lucchese had a hand in controlling the Garment District, while the Detroit mafia was involved with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters; Albert Anastasia had control of the Brooklyn docks, and had ties to the International Longshoremen's Association through his younger brother Anthony, while Nicodemo Scarfo had control over the local contracting and bartending unions in Atlantic City. The New York families even had enough power within these unions to bring construction activities within the city to a standstill if they didn't get the right payoffs. The crimes involved in labor racketeering included union shakedowns, embezzling from workers' benefit plans, rigging union elections in favor of mob-friendly candidates, coercing companies into hiring mob-controlled workers, and providing "no-show" jobs to mobsters. Because of the Mafia's involvement in labor racketeering, many now perceive labor unions to be inefficient, bloated, and corrupt. The film On the Waterfront is a good example of detailing the rampant corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the New Jersey dockyards.
  • Garbage hauling: One area that is very notable for mob infiltration is garbage hauling. To reduce strain on their overstressed budgets, many cities in the middle of the 20th century stopped allowing commercial entities to make use of city trash services; the private companies that replaced them often used drivers from unions that were already mob-controlled, making their corruption trivial. The so-called "garbage mobsters" who ran these operations often falsified paperwork and tampered with waste scales, sometimes to skim profits from the business, and sometimes to hide ill-gotten gains in it. Crew bosses and members often got "no-show" jobs at these firms, which gave them a legitimate reason to explain their income. They also divvied up routes in cities, rigged contract bids to favor mob-controlled garbage haulers, and quashed any outside competition to keep their prices artificially high. The Genovese family still has some control over garbage hauling through Alphonse "Allie Shades" Malangone, a capo who also has some control over the family's interests in the Fulton Fish Market. The Sopranos is also accurate in its portrayal of the North Jersey hauling market around the turn of the 21st century: the division of New Jersey into a myriad of municipalities makes it hard to catch corrupt deals like this, though the state has intervened to block this when it has the resources. This racket has also gone transatlantic; the Camorra started on this when Naples started outsourcing its waste management in the 1990s, and gummed up the works so thoroughly that trash was a huge issue for about 20 years thereafter.
  • Construction and real estate: Another area that is rife with mob activity is construction and real estate services. In the 1970s and 80s, most projects in New York could not go ahead without the Five Families' approval, especially if the contract was above $2 million; also many mobsters in major cities were given "no-show" jobs in mob-controlled construction companies to explain their income to the IRS. The mob bribed or threatened union leaders in order to grab a piece of the action whenever they got hold of a construction project, and in some cases, took over the union leadership themselves. Once the Mafia had its grip on a union, it secretly could control an entire industry, and could halt or slow down a project if contractors and developers didn't make the right pay-offs. These pay-offs to mob-controlled contractors and unions often forced outsiders to pass these costs down the chain to the consumer, and in turn, forcing real estate prices to skyrocket. Plus, the mob has always ingrained itself within real estate crimes, such as "swampland-in-Florida-for-sale" scams, predatory lending schemes and equity fraud.
  • Cargo services: Another area that's rife with mob infiltration is in cargo services, especially in trucking, airport services and dockyards. Albert Anastasia, in addition to being a mob-hired hit-man, also had a great degree of control over the unions at the Brooklyn docks, while the Five Families had crews at Idlewild (now JFK) Airport, committing crimes such as truck hijacking and infiltration of unions, among other activities. The Teamsters were mob-influenced, especially during Jimmy Hoffa's tenure; he even had connections with the Detroit mafia. The mob would oftentimes infiltrate and shake down unions and businesses servicing this industry, and coerce them into placing mob-friendly candidates. The Lucchese family has had a stranglehold on the Garment District, through their infiltration of various businesses and unions.
  • Infiltration of legitimate businesses: The mob would often infiltrate legitimate businesses through various means, from running protection rackets, shaking them down, providing "no-show" jobs to mobsters, forming shell companies, and as a cover for illicit activities. Restaurants, waste haulers, bars, construction companies, clothing and airport services were rife with mob infiltration. This went hand in hand with:
  • Bankruptcy fraud: Businesses depend upon lines of credit for nearly all day-to-day activity. This gave the mob ample opportunity for "bust-out" schemes. By controlling a legitimate business off-the-books (either through infiltration, or founding one with a front man and "nut money"), the Mafia could use the business's credit lines to obtain resalable items worth much more than the business itself; in the end a dilapidated shell of a company was left to wipe out the debts through bankruptcy.
  • Food distribution: This area was also rife with mob activity. Prohibition-era mobster Ciro Terranova became known as "The Artichoke King" due to his monopoly on the common Italian foodstuff. Joe Profaci was "The Olive Oil and Tomato Paste King," as his descendants still have a strong ownership stake in the US branch of Italian brand Colavita. Paul Castellano used his Dial Meat Purveyors as a way to strong-arm meat distributors and supermarkets into stocking his poultry products, thanks to his prior experience as a butcher early in his mob career, while the Bonannos used pizza joints as a cover to smuggle and distribute heroin into the United States; Joe Bonanno even had behind-the-scenes interests in cheese distributors such as Grande Cheese (based in Fond du Lac, WI) during his 60+ years in the mob. The Fulton Fish Market is still rife with mob activity, especially with the Genovese family forcing outside competitors to pay a "tax" in order to sell their fish. Mobsters even infiltrated and shook down restaurants, bars and nightclubs if their owners could not pay back the loan they owed, or if they failed to pay the extortion "tax". The Luccheses used their influence in Kosher food distributors to force supermarkets into stocking their products, while the Philly mob had control over the local bartenders union in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Garment manufacturing: Clothing is another sector that's still rife with mob infiltration. The Lucchese and Gambino families have had significant interests in the trucking and production in New York's Garment District, with corresponding influence and control of various Teamsters and Ladies Garment Workers' locals, alongside with their Jewish allies Lepke Buchalter and Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro. The garment industry is divided essentially into two parts: the jobbers who design and sell the garments, and the contractors who assemble and sew the apparel. The bulk of the products were made-up in Chinatown, so there was a constant shuffling between the garment district located mainly between 34th and 39th Streets and the makers located south of Canal Street, three miles down the island. The trucking operation was the life-blood of the business, connecting the heart (the district) to the limbs (Chinatown), and whomever controlled the trucks controlled the garment industry, which by the 1950s was employing more than 300,000 workers. Via their control of the trucking and garment workers unions, the Mafia and their labor union cronies could essentially put a halt to goods coming in and out of the Garment District if the right payoffs weren't made.
  • White Collar Crime: Why else would the mob ignore this area? From tax evasion and counterfeiting in the 1920s and 1930s, to money laundering in the 1960s, to "pump-and-dump" stock scams and mortgage fraud in recent years, the Mafia has always been involved in many financial crimes. They were also involved in confidence tricks such as Ponzi Schemes, advance-fee fraud and are now making a foray into identity theft, credit card scams, health care fraud, and cybercrimes, oftentimes with other organized crime groups. The Bonanno family was heavily involved in stock market scams during the Internet bubble of the 1990s, where they would coerce brokers into selling shady stock deals to unsuspecting investors. During the late 2000s recession, mobsters took advantage of the ongoing crisis by participating in mortgage scams, whether through predatory lending schemes or Insurance Fraud.
  • Political/governmental corruption: American politics is still rife with corruption, especially in cities and small towns, where machine politics still has a big sway over the locality's budget. New York, Atlantic City and Chicago were great examples of machine politics, and mobsters would take advantage of this in exchange for political favors and to rig contracts in favor of mob-controlled businesses; Tommy Lucchese and Frank Costello often jockeyed with one another over who would control Tammany Hall. The mob would sometimes offer bribes to crooked politicians and officials in exchange for turning a blind eye to organized crime activities. In the 1990s, two NYPD officers were revealed to be working for the mob as contract killers, and were on the Lucchese family's payroll for years.

    Blue-collar Crimes 
  • Illegal gambling: Gambling has always been a very important and lucrative business in the Mafia — in fact, the early mob families started out as numbers running operations. From card games to sports betting, the Mafia has raked in cash from all of them. They operated many illegal and luxurious gambling operations throughout the United States, while police officers and politicians turned a blind eye to these rackets in exchange for payoffs. Las Vegas, Cuba and Atlantic City became gambling meccas, and the mob took notice. Though the Mafia has a diminished influence in Las Vegas, its long-lasting impact on the gambling mecca's development will be felt for decades to come.
  • Sports betting: The mob was also heavily involved in sports betting, especially in horse racing, college sports and boxing. Several Mafia members associated with the Lucchese crime family participated in a point shaving scandal involving the Boston College men's basketball team. BC player Rick Kuhn, Henry Hill, and others associated with the Lucchese crime family manipulated the results of the games during the 1978–1979 basketball season. Through bribing and intimidating several other members of the team, they ensured their bets on the point spread of each game would go in their favor. Frankie Carbo and Tommy "Ryan" Eboli were deep into rigging boxing matches, and even became the Mafia's unofficial commissioners for boxing.
  • Loansharking/shylocking: Illegal gambling and sports betting also led to the rise of a new activity: loansharking. Another prime moneymaker for the Mafia is to provide loans to degenerate gamblers, freelance criminals, drug addicts, and those with a bad credit history at usurious interest rates, and oftentimes with the ominous threat of violence and vandalism if they did not pay back. By the 1960s, loan sharks grew even more coordinated, and could pool information on borrowers to better size up risks and ensure a borrower did not try to pay off one loan by borrowing from another Loan Shark. In other words, loan sharks have become aware of the scheme used by borrowers, namely "robbing Peter to pay Paul." Similar tactics are used by the sarakin in Japan and Ah Long in Malaysia to harass and publicly shame those who don't pay off in time.
  • Pornography: Prostitution became another moneymaker for the Mafia, as they began to infiltrate peep show booths, porn distributors and child pornography, especially around Times Square, during the decline of New York City in the 1970s. The Gambino family had interests in that area, especially through Robert DiBernardo, who was one of the very few thought to have become 'made' in the Mafia without committing a murder. His name was later used to discredit Geraldine Ferraro's run for the US Senate in the 1990s, when her ties to the mobster were questioned. Lucky Luciano himself was accused of pandering and deported back to Italy, despite little or no evidence that he was actually running prostitution rings. Michael "Mikey Z" Zaffarano, a now-deceased capo in the Bonanno family, even had interests in adult-only movie theaters.
  • Extortion: The Mafia has been involved in extortion of various types from the start, as it started out as Black Hand extortion rings in the early 1900s. Eventually, mobsters began to strong-arm businesses, unions, and freelance criminals, forcing them down to pay a "street tax" via strong-arm tactics in exchange for operating in Mafia-controlled territories. Unlike the "Black Hand" rackets, which generally sought a single large payoff, these rackets sought more livable sums on a continual basis. They could shake down businesses and individuals in many ways, including loansharking, confidence tricks, protection rackets, and shakedowns. Often, the ominous threat of violence was often employed in many of these rackets to ensure that they are falling in line.
  • Narcotics trafficking: This became the mob's biggest moneymaker after bootlegging declined in the 1930s, as the Mafia began to dabble into the drug trade. However, this split them into two groups, with the pro-drug faction advocating in favor of it, while those opposed believed it would attract attention. Eventually, those in favor won out, and many low-ranking mobsters began to deal extensively with the Sicilians, Corsicans, and other organized crime groups. The idea that they were against drug running is baloney, as bosses such as Paul Castellano, Carlo Gambino and others often turned a blind eye to this, with many of them taking their cut of the profits from the drug sales their men generated in exchange for dealing on the sly despite the so-called "ban." Joe Bonanno and his henchmen became very notorious for specializing in heroin and opium, as they used Canada as an outpost for importing drugs into the United States from Sicily in the 1950s while using pizza joints as a way to cover it up.
  • Contraband smuggling: From bootlegging and gunrunning in the 1920s and 1930s to cigarette smuggling and human trafficking in recent years, the Mafia has been involved in all sorts of contraband smuggling as a way to evade import duties/taxes and to smuggle in banned items such as pirated CDs, exotic animals and illegal guns. Rum-running became the mob's primary moneymaker in the 1920s, as many of the Young Turks began their mob careers during Prohibition, and by the time it was repealed in 1933, many of them were millionaires, and soon dabbled in other areas such as numbers running, labor racketeering and narcotics trafficking (drug trafficking eventually became the mob's biggest moneymaker, but it also attracted attention). In the 1980s, the Colombo family formed a gas tax evasion scheme with the Russian Mafia by siphoning off money that would have went to the federal government.
  • Murder: The Mafia would have failed if it did not employ any threat of violence in regards to its illicit activities. Murder, Inc., a Brooklyn-based band of Italian and Jewish hit-men, became the National Crime Syndicate's enforcement arm, and committed as many as 800 hits to ensure mobsters are falling in line. Bugsy Siegel and Albert Anastasia began their careers as hit-men, as did many of the mobsters in the 1920s, becoming bodyguards and enforcers for more powerful bosses. Many made men usually begin their careers as hit-men, committing murders on behalf of their mob superiors. The Sicilian Mafia is very notorious in this, as they not only killed rival members, but also went after law enforcement officials, judges, politicians and anybody who dared to cross them; even families of made members were not spared, especially if they decided to become stoolies. Paolo Borsellino and and Giovanni Falcone, two government prosecutors who led an anti-Mafia crusade in the 1980s, learned this the hard way when both were killed in separate car bombings in 1992, forcing the Italian government to crack down on the Sicilian mob's activities. Although shooters are popularly known as "hit men" and Mafia murder jobs are called "contracts", these are not murders-for-hire; Mafia button men are expected to offer their services on demand, with no financial consideration beyond their normal mob income.
  • Armed robbery: Many mobsters began their mob careers serving as enforcers and armed robbers, and by the 1970s, mobsters were hijacking trucks coming out of JFK Airport, and then selling the stolen merchandise to known fences across New York City. John Gotti, Joe Massino and Sal Vitale began their mob careers as truck hijackers in the 1960s, as did many of the Young Turks in the 1920s. Even Paul Castellano began his mob career in the 1930s by holding up a haberdasher; despite being asked to identify his accomplices, he refused to so, and served a three-month stint as a result. This earned him the respect of local mobsters, especially his cousin Carlo Gambino.
  • Auto theft: The Gambino family has had a big hand in auto theft rings, especially through Roy DeMeo, one of the mob's most feared hitmen. He would sell stolen cars to chop shops, who would strip them of their auto parts to be sold to scrap dealers. Criminals are also hopeful that there is little incentive on the part of the victim to search their stolen vehicle, as even if the car is found, recovery may cost more (in insurance, legal, and transportation fees) than the car is actually worth, especially if the stolen car is of low value. A chop shop must be able to take apart a car without damaging the parts and keep them organized. Time is of the essence: more cars processed equals higher profits. There is no advantage to a large inventory, as it can be done more efficiently in a "JIT" (Just In Time) manner by asking a thief only when cars are needed.

The Mafia Initiation Ceremony

    Overview 
The Mafia solicits specific people for membership — one cannot just voluntarily choose to join up. Also, in order to become a made man, the inductee has to be a male of full Italian descent; though this restriction has been loosened over time, some Mafia families are more restrictive of whom they want to bring in than others. An associate who was in the police force or attended a police academy can never become an official member, thought it has oftentimes been flouted for corrupt cops. To get in to the Mafia's inner circles, one must prove they're a good earner, be on call at all times, and most importantly, follow any orders they get, even if it involves murder or strong-arm work.

Before being inducted, a candidate is required to carry out a contract killing. Traditionally, it was done in order to prove loyalty to the Mafia, but in modern times, it also serves to show that one is not an undercover cop (no, cops may not legally conspire to commit a murder, nor assault a civilian, lest they be branded as felons if they do so and face stiff penalties); any murder committed for personal reasons "do not count." Committing one's first contract murder is referred to as "making your bones," and a potential inductee who does it earns his "button" in the Mafia — meaning he's on track to becoming made. However, earning one's "button" does not always involve killing; good "earners," or experienced associates who have not necessarily murdered for the Mafia but have good rackets or schemes, have in the past become made men, due to their valuable contributions beyond murder-for-hire. The prospect does not necessarily have to be the gunman, but is expected to be if asked (particularly if they know the victim; having an associate perform every murder would give potential victims a big red flag as to whether a hit can be expected or not).

Many times, they will drive the car used to transport the body or a secondary diversion car, or even act as part of a clean-up or burial crew. For example, mob stoolie Joe Valachi's main piece of "work" that qualified him for induction was renting a lookout apartment adjacent to one where a major Masseria figure was thought to live (the mark had moved shortly before the hit attempt). Generally, anything that could get them indicted as a principal in conspiracy to commit murder would be sufficient. The killing proves that the inductee is fully committed in joining the Mafia, knows the risks and penalties involved if he gets out of line, and most importantly, it confirms that he is not a cop. Though the killing rule was imposed to weed out potential candidates in the past, it seems to have died out in recent years for the most part.

When introducing one made man to another, the phrase "a friend of ours" is used, indicating that he is a member and official business can be discussed openly with him. But the phrase "a friend of mine" is used instead if the third person is an outsider — it means certain pressing matters can't be disclosed openly. Plus, introducing two made men always requires a third party.

Made men are the only ones who can rise through the ranks of the Mafia, from soldier to capo, consigliere, underboss, and boss. There is another obstacle — all potential inductees have to be vetted by the Commission. During the Castellammarese War, Mafia families would often recruit new members in bulk; as they could not be recognized by the other families, they easily approached the rival capos and rubbed them out. To put an end to this, all families are now required to give a list of prospective members to the Commission. It's circulated among the other families and eliminates the risk of not being recognized, and also gave the opportunity of removing any inductee which some other family had a problem with.

Plus, the Commission imposed a cap on each family's size and roster as a way to prevent one family from becoming too large or recruiting in bulk via unauthorized expansions. For example, the Genovese and Gambino families each are allowed to have around 450 made men, while the Bonannos have a max size of around 250 made men, and the Chicago Outfit, the Luccheses, and the Colombos each have a max size of around 200 made men. Other families, such as Detroit, Philly, New Jersey, Buffalo, and New England each have a variable range of 50 to 100 made men, depending on the family's proximity to New York, the amount of rackets, the pool of associates to draw from, and the family's significance. These are theoretical limits that are seldom, if ever, reached in modern days; there simply aren't enough rackets to allow a comfortable living for the 1500 or so made men in New York, nor are there enough associates with the necessary qualities for membership.

    The Ceremony 
To become made, a potential recruit would first have to be sponsored or "put on record" by an officially made man, generally a capo or soldier. Prior to the Donnie Brasco scandal, only one sponsor was needed, but this forced the Mafia to now require an associate to get at least two sponsors, with the sponsors vouching for his reliability and abilities to generate money. Although a capo or other senior member will determine the prospect's credibility, it's the boss who makes the final decision.

When the crime family "opens the books" (accepts new members), the associate will get a call telling him to get ready and be dressed. He is then taken to a private and secluded place for the ceremony to take place, usually done in a dark room or in the basement of a fellow mobster's house. The family administration and some of the capos and soldiers sit in a circle, as well as other inductees if they're joining in as well. The boss then asks the other family members if they have reservations about the candidate they're about to induct, to which they say no. The associate is then told that this is a closed and secret society, they must be aware of the Mafia's rules, the only way out is in a box, and this 'thing of ours' comes before your blood family.

Typically, a gun and a knife are put in front of the inductee, with the boss asking him if he would use these to defend his fellow members in troubling situations — the inductee must say yes. Then, the inductee's trigger finger is pricked until blood came out. The blood would be put on the picture of a saint, then the picture is placed in the hands of the inductee. Then the boss lights the picture on fire and while the wiseguy juggles it in his hands, the boss says: "If you divulge the secrets of our life, your soul will burn in hell, just like this saint," asking the inductee to repeat the vow of Omertà. Then the newly made guy kisses the higher-ups on both cheeks.

The initiation ceremony was by no means universal; Chicago is not thought to have adopted it until the reign of Joey Aiuppa, with previous inductees simply swearing fealty to Al Capone or later bosses on a religious text. Similarly, New England did not use the ceremony in the days of informer Vinnie Teresa. Also, a refusal to join the Cosa Nostra was seen as a sign that the candidate is an undercover cop or informant trying to infiltrate the family, and was marked for death. While there may be variations of the oath, the basic wording remains the same.

The details of a Mafia induction ceremony were a carefully kept and closely guarded secret for years. But in 1963, Valachi's testimony before a Senate subcommittee shed a spotlight on the mob (the FBI had obtained similar information from mob informer Greg Scarpa Sr. several years before, but it wasn't known until much later); furthermore, the FBI managed to successfully bug an initiation ceremony of New England's Patriarca crime family in 1989, but the Patriarcas lost a lot of respect when this was exposed. The Mafia inductions described above is the ceremony conducted by the Sicilian Mafia as well as most American Mafia families. Circumstances can alter some of the details of the ceremony, such as an induction in prison or a quick induction during a gang war.

As described above in the bugged induction ceremony in 1989, the tapes revealed that mafiosi felt a sense of kinship when they joined, as it most likely came about because they placed a vow to the organization and are required to stay loyal. The oaths themselves talk about the family bond, and the rules of secrecy represent the family loyalty as well as a sense of self-preservation. Despite all the rivalries and differences between the mafiosi in both Sicily and America, there is a sense of brotherhood.

    Key Rules 
There are procedures and rules that govern the induction of new members:
  • The inductee must be a male of full Italian heritage on both sides, a change in previous policy requiring that only the father’s lineage be Italian.
  • A potential inductee has to do a contract killing, also a change in previous policy. Prior to the Donnie Brasco scandal, only one had to be part of a murder, such as driving the getaway car. The killing proves that the inductee is fully dedicated in joining the Mafia, knows the risks and penalties involved if he gets out of line, and most importantly, it confirms he is NOT an undercover cop.
  • The new member must have at least two sponsors, and they must have known him personally for some time. The sponsors know the associate very well and vouch for his street cred.
  • Names of proposed made men, and the deceased ones they will replace, must be sent to the other families, who have some time to lodge an objection — for example, the candidate is a rat or if they work for another family.
  • Families may not replace a police informant until he gets murdered or dies naturally.
  • New members can be "made" only as replacements for mobsters who have died, although each family is allowed to add two new members at Christmastime.
  • Mafia families cannot recruit in bulk or "open the books" without prior authorization from the Commission.
  • An associate who attended a police academy, or served as a corrections or police officer cannot be officially made.
  • Families may never replace a member the family has killed.

    Privileges and Restrictions 
After the induction ceremony, the associate becomes a made man and holds the rank of soldier in the Mafia totem pole. A made man enjoys the full protection and backing of the Mafia establishment as long as he remains in favor and earns enough money, a percentage of which must be passed up the hierarchy. They are traditionally seen as "untouchable" by fellow criminals: he is to be respected and feared. Killing or assaulting a made man for any reason without explicit permission of the higher-ups is a big no-no, usually punishable by death, regardless of whether the perpetrator had a legitimate grievance; however, a made man can be killed if a strong argument is provided and the higher-ups green-light it.

If one breaks any of the rules, they can be killed by another member of the family and usually the murder is committed by the people closest to that person.

All made men have to follow these rules:
  • They must vow to stay loyal to the Mafia for life and kick a fixed sum or portion of their earnings to their superiors. Any activities they do are "put on record" or "registered" with their capo so that they'll profit from these rackets and plan further schemes.
  • Whenever they're called in by their superiors, they must oblige ASAP without reservation — even if their wife's pregnant, or their parents are on their deathbed. They must always defer to their bosses and put La Cosa Nostra first and foremost over everything.
  • They must also never cooperate with authorities in any way, never be seen walking around with cops, and must serve out prison sentences without complaint — hence the vow of Omerta.
  • Members are not allowed to commit adultery with another family member's wife, daughter or girlfriend.
  • No one can present himself directly to another made member. There must be a third person to do it.
  • Made men must abstain from both using and selling drugs of any kind, though this rule has oftentimes been ignored.
  • Similarly, made men must abstain from counterfeiting money, bonds, or stock certificates, and must never kill with explosives. Again, all of these have frequently been honored only in the breach.
  • Made men must never kill police or judges. This one has held up, and even the Zips (who famously don't follow these rules at home) honor them in the US and Canada.
  • Any disputes or grievances between two or more made guys must be brought to the higher-ups' attention.
  • Whenever they're talking over the phone or in person, they often have to drop hints instead of speaking directly about a situation.

In exchange for his loyalty, a made man gets full access to his crime family's protection, power and connections. His organization is also expected to look after his family and sometimes pay for legal fees if he is imprisoned.

A made man must have enough success in his schemes in order to remain in favor with his superiors and avoid becoming a long-term liability. Some associates become soldiers because of their usefulness in strong-arm work, but even they must demonstrate an ability to earn money. A soldier will be given profitable rackets to run by his superiors, but for the most part they must also generate money on their own. In essence, it's George Jetson Job Security for any mafioso, as even lucrative rackets can go dry if they don't have good backup schemes.

Though many mafiosi have been killed by the mob over the years, some were given a pass, but received other penalties for falling out of line. For example:

  • Taxed: The mobster is forced to make a large cash payment to an offended individual, forced to relinquish a lucrative racket, or both.
  • Broken/pulled down. The mobster is demoted in rank, and usually loses a lot of influence and wealth, especially when they're demoted from a powerful underboss to a mere soldier.
  • Put on a shelf. The mobster is forced into early retirement and stripped of his responsibilities, even though he's an official member.
  • Assigned unfavorable rackets or territories. As a sign that the mobster is beginning to fall out of favor from his superiors, they're given dead-end jobs where they won't be making enough money.
  • Chased or stripped of their button. For very severe offenses, the mobster is permanently declared Persona Non Grata within the Mafia and barred from associating or doing business with any made members under pain of death.

    Symbolism in Mafia Murders 
As a warning to others, the Mafia sometimes uses symbolism to show how the offender was punished.
  • Angelo Bruno's consigliere Antonio Caponigro was brutally beaten up and killed by Vincent Gigante's crew in 1980 for killing his own boss without Commission approval. Dollar bills were stuffed in his mouth and anus as a sign that he was too greedy. Caponigro loyalists Frank Sindone, John Simone, and Alfred Salerno also met similar fates.
  • Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano's hands were chopped off because he, albeit unknowingly, introduced undercover FBI agent Joe "Donnie Brasco" Pistone to other wiseguys. As a warning, mobsters must not be seen shaking hands with cops. Similarly, Anthony Mirra, the mobster who introduced Pistone to Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero and Sonny Black, was shot dead in his car.
  • A dead canary was stuffed into Lucchese mobster Bruno Facciolo's corpse as a sign that he was an informant, when in reality, he wasn't.
  • Rocco Marinucci's body was found a year to the day after Phil Testa's death in 1982, with firecrackers stuffed into his mouth and throat. As Marinucci was involved in Testa's death, Salvatore Testa stuffed the firecrackers on Marinucci's corpse to symbolize the bomb used on Testa.
  • Sam Giancana was shot once in the mouth and 5 times in the neck or under his chin as a message for silence. Joey Aiuppa and Tony Accardo may have feared he would spill the beans about the Chicago mob's operations or its involvement in the CIA's plot to kill Castro in front of a Senate panel.
  • Johnny Roselli's body, chopped into pieces, was found a year later in a 55-gallon oil drum weighed down with heavy chains in Dumfoundling Bay near Miami. This may have been done because Roselli had revealed too much about the John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro murder plots during his Senate testimony, or that he hoarded an unfair portion of the mob's interests in Las Vegas.
  • Joseph "Joe Jelly" Gioelli, one of Joe Gallo's top enforcers during the 1st Colombo family war, was invited on a deep sea fishing trip out of Sheepshead Bay, and was killed, dismembered and dumped in the ocean for siding with the Gallos. The next day, a car drove by the Gallo crew headquarters and tossed out a package containing Joe Jelly's coat wrapped around some dead fish, with the message being that he was Sleeping With The Fishes.
  • Paul Gulino sealed his own doom for shoving Bonanno consigliere Anthony Spero. Threatening or assaulting a made man is a big no-no, and since Gulino wasn't a made guy, he was killed by his friends because of this.
  • Likewise, Tom and Rosemary Uva, a Bonnie and Clyde-type couple who robbed mafia social clubs for the thrill of committing crimes, were killed by Gambino capo Dominick Pizzonia. As with Gulino, infringing on a Mob-owned establishment like a social club means that the person is usually marked for death.
  • John Petrucelli, a Lucchese family associate, was murdered because he refused to kill Gus Farace, another mob associate who had killed DEA agent Everett Hatcher. A hood was placed over his head, which is a Sicilian message for "never keep secrets from your bosses."

How the Mafia is Structured:

The Mafia is structured in a way so the higher-ups cannot be traced back to a single crime, allowing them to pass orders down the chain of command, while the grunts kick in a piece of whatever they earned to their capos and so on. This chain of command was introduced by Sal Maranzano in 1931, as a way to structure the mob along the Roman legions and to maintain order after the Castellammarese War, while the Commission was established by Luciano, who preferred to have a council of bosses governing the mob instead of a mob overlord ruling over them and demanding tribute from other bosses, but retained the structure Maranzano established.

    Overall Ranks 
  • Capo di tutti i capi - the Boss of all Bosses in a particular area. More a media title than anything of significance in the American or Sicilian Mob, mob bosses are seen as peers and don't pay tribute to or take orders from each other. The only boss to ever claim this title for himself was Sal Maranzano after "winning" the Castellammarese War in 1931, and he got to enjoy it for less than six months. Before long, Maranzano's nominal second-in-command Lucky Luciano and his fellow Young Turks thought Maranzano was Not So Different from Masseria, and they decided to retire the title, and Maranzano along with it. An older term, capo consigliere, denoted the first among equals of the New York bosses, who would arbitrate disputes between families; this went by the wayside during the Castellammarese War and was never reestablished afterwards.
  • The Commission - Luciano's answer to the capo di tutti i capi title. Originally consisted of the bosses of the Five Families in New York, the boss of the Buffalo family, and Al Capone, with substantial input from "associates" such as Meyer Lansky. Other cities, such as Detroit and Philadelphia, once had seats on the Commission, but later lost it. Later pared down to just the Five Families with the Bonannos thrown out of the Commission in the 1980s due to their generally disruptive behavior in the Mafia (though they later regained their Commission seat in the 1990s), with Chicago doing its own thing, but it still has a seat on the Commission; the idea worked so well that the Sicilian Mafia was encouraged to form a similar body. The Commission is headed by a nominal Chairman, who was not seen as the capo di tutti capi as law enforcement usually claimed it to be; in the mob, crime bosses are viewed as equals regardless of size or power, and having a mob overlord ran contrary to this idea. Luciano became the first Chairman of the Mafia Commission after establishing it in 1931. Contrary to popular belief, the Commission does not "rule" the Mafia (see above re: bosses, orders, and tribute), but acts as the ultimate governing body for settling disputes that might otherwise lead to violations of "honor" and all-out turf wars — think more of a United Nations of the Underworld or a board of directors of mob bosses rather than a King of the Mob (or even a Parliament of the Mafia). Only the Commission can approve a new boss before he could take over officially, allow who can become a made man and who can't, and vote on issues that might require inter-family cooperation. Though the bosses used to meet more often, greater law enforcement scrutiny in the 1980s and an increasing number of mob informants, notably Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, have forced the Commission underground, and the families now send lower-level members such as capos to discuss business and resolve inter-family disputes. Also, the five New York City bosses have not met with each other since Paul Castellano was killed in late 1985, as the last meeting took place a month before his death (though there was a mini-Commission meeting in 2000, most of the attendees at the time were acting bosses with the lone exception of Joe Massino of the Bonanno family).
    • Chairman of the Commission - There was no "ruler" of the Commission, but there was a nominated Chairman or Head of the National Commission. This was used as a substitute to the role of boss of all bosses, as that had the connotations of the old Mustache Pete system of one-man rule.
      • 1931-1946 — Charles "Charlie Lucky" Luciano — arrested in 1936 and then deported back to Italy in 1946
      • 1946-1951 — Vincent "The Executioner" Mangano — head of the conservative/Sicilian faction, disappeared in April 1951
      • 1951-1957 — Frank "The Prime Minister" Costello — stepped down after assassination attempt by Vito Genovese in May 1957
      • 1957-1959 — Vito "Don Vitone" Genovese — imprisoned in 1959 and died in February 1969
      • 1959-1964 — Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno — forcibly retired in October 1964, died in May 2002
      • 1964-1976 — Carlo "Don Carlo" Gambino — died of heart attack on October 15, 1976
      • 1976-1985 — Paul "Big Paul" Castellano — murdered on December 16, 1985
      • 1985-1992 — John "the Dapper Don" Gotti — imprisoned in 1992 and died on June 10, 2002
      • 1992-1997 — Vincent "the Chin" Gigante — imprisoned in 1997 and died December 19, 2005
      • 1997-2004 — Joseph "Big Joey" Massino — imprisoned in 2003, then became a government witness in 2004
      • 2004-present — unknown

     Ranks Within Each Family 
  • Boss - The official head of a particular family. "Don" is an honorific, not a title: in today's Italy it's reserved to priests. Since Mafia families in Sicily are more numerous and smaller than those in the United States, the title isn't as distinguished, although the boss still has paramount authority within his region. "Hits" on individuals under his family's protection are at the sole discretion of the boss, and he also decides who is allowed to become a formal member of the family. Being the top decision-maker of a family, much of the boss's other duties include settling disputes (holding "sit-downs") between family members and other crime families, relaying orders down the chain of command, receiving a tribute from the family's capos (and rarely, soldiers and associates serving directly under him), and promoting or demoting ("knock down" or "break") family members at will. Murdering or attempting to murder an official boss is a big no-no in the Mafia, as the Commission would order the usurper's death for killing his own boss without explicit permission; only the Commission can authorize a hit on bosses - though this rule has been flouted many times. A boss will typically put up many layers of insulation between himself and his men to defeat law enforcement efforts to arrest him. This makes it difficult under most circumstances to directly implicate him in a crime, since he almost never directly gives orders to the soldiers.
  • Underboss - The second-in-command of a mafia family and usually becomes the boss if the official boss is unavailable (death, prison, on the lam, etc.). The underboss's power varies by family: some are mere figureheads, while others could be very influential, sometimes running a faction within the family or in rare cases, becoming the de facto or effective head of the family even if the official boss is free. The former types are often "knocked down" (demoted), or "whacked" (take a guess) when their patron is no longer guiding their fortunes or if they fall out of favor with the boss. Will collect tribute from most of the family's captains (some, known as "king's men", have the honor of handing theirs directly to the boss), taking a hefty cut before passing it up, and may be in charge of larger rackets requiring citywide coordination (for example, sports betting, which requires bookies across an urban area to hedge each other's bets to collect profit with minimum risk). It should be noted that Capobastone is used mainly within the 'Ndrangheta, though. Typically, the underboss arbitrates many of the disputes, but if it's a major problem, he might consult with the boss, but the boss is the one who retains ultimate authority. However he makes his illegal earnings, it is a significant enough amount to make his position one of envy, especially when prestige and the possibility of additional advancement are weighed. Just like the boss of a family, an underboss may also have a right-hand man as his protege, and the protege may speak in place of an underboss or carry out additional tasks for the underboss.
  • Consigliere - The third-in-command of a Mafia family, they're an advisor or counselor to the boss, with the additional responsibility of representing the family in Commission meetings. In theory, he is one of the few allowed to argue with the boss, when he thinks what the boss is doing could destroy the family. Most "consigliere" types in media (such as Tom Hagen) are actually based on Mob lawyers. Though the Commission specified a counselor in each family to act as their eyes and ears, most Real Life mob bosses saw it as a lower-level position. Many families often use the position for a veteran who knows the ins and outs of the family's power, but does not wish to rise to power for whatever reason. Chicago would be a subversion, with the "consigliere" being a sort of "boss emeritus" aka capo consigliere; mobsters Tony Accardo and Paul Ricca held this title, and dominated the Chicago Outfit for nearly 50 years while letting lower-level capos such as Sam Giancana or Joey "Doves" Aiuppa hold the title of boss. Nicodemo Scarfo was another subversion, as he became the boss of the Philly Mob when the previous boss, Phil Testa, was assassinated while the underboss, Peter Casella, was exiled to Florida. At the time of Phil Testa's death, Scarfo was the number-three man. A consigliere generally has one soldier underneath him as an aide-de-camp and source of additional income; the lack of attachment to a crew supposedly makes him more "impartial" and obviously makes him less powerful. Like the underboss, the consigliere's power varies: some are mere flunkies for the boss, while others can be very influential to the point of being the de facto or real power behind the throne.
  • Acting/Street/Front Boss - Ranks unique to the American Mafia, appearing in response to increasing law enforcement heat, rendering most "official" bosses and underbosses no longer at liberty to control the day-to-day operations of their families. This responsibility usually ends up being delegated to a capo (who still operates his own crew in the meantime), who can send a "messenger" to receive orders from the boss and pass along tribute. Even when the official boss is free, this structure is at times maintained as a veneer to prevent outsiders from knowing who's calling the shots - the Genovese family is a notable user of this since the 1970s and have been playing bait-and-switch with law enforcement using this tactic, as they would oftentimes prop up "dummy" bosses, usually high-ranking grunts, while the official boss remains hidden. May sometimes in fact be the de facto boss in all but name, especially if the official boss is old, ill, or kept incommunicado in prison, and if the Street Boss would rather keep a low profile. (Note: This, essentially, was the rank Tony Soprano occupied for most of the series.).
  • Messaggero - Another rank that's unique to the American Mafia, this also appeared in the aftermath of the Apalachin Meeting in 1957, though it was increasingly used in the 1980s, especially after the Commission Case, which forced the bosses to hold their sitdowns away from law enforcement scrutiny. The boss can sometimes delegate one of his men to serve as a liaison between him and the other crime families, reducing the need for sit-downs of the mob hierarchy, and thus limit the public exposure of the bosses. In other cases, the boss can use it to relay orders down the chain of command and as a facade to prevent law enforcement from knowing where the orders are actually coming from. Vincent Gigante, John Gotti, Joe Massino and other bosses oftentimes used their relatives as emissaries, especially in the wake of the Commission Case.
  • Ruling Panel - Another rank unique to the American Mafia, this also appeared in response to greater law enforcement scrutiny in the 1980s, as most of the "official" bosses faced long prison sentences. The boss sometimes delegates a panel/ruling committee of high-ranking capos (who still operate their own crews at the same time) to run the day-to-day operations of the family while the boss retains ultimate control of the family from behind bars, and usually relays his orders to the family via a "messenger", who could then send orders down the chain of command to avoid suspicion. The families can also use these ruling panels as a way to prevent outsiders from knowing who's actually calling the shots, and to shield the higher-ups from law enforcement scrutiny.
  • Capodecina/Caporegime - Also known as a captain, skipper, capo, "group leader," or "crew chief," a capo may oversee a borgata, faction or crew of approx. 10-20 soldiers and many more associates as he can efficiently control in a certain territory or racket assigned to him. Grants permission for all criminal activities in his crew (unauthorized activities may run afoul of another crew or another family's rackets), collects a share of every score from his underlings, and passes a fixed sum or percentage on to the higher-ups. Capos are, in effect, the family's "middle management." Their control over the family's earners and shooters gives them a great deal of power, and they are often the kingmakers if the official boss dies, retires or is incapacitated. The latter title is unique to the American Mafia. Sometimes, if a capo is in good graces with the boss (especially if they're a good earner and is respected by the other wiseguys), then the official boss may promote the capo to street or acting boss (while running their own crew), especially if the boss is imprisoned, ill, semi-retired, wants to lay low, is grooming a successor, or as a facade to prevent law enforcement from knowing who's actually in charge. On occasions, a capo may be placed in charge of a faction that a family has significant interests in; for example, the Genovese family, which has five crews in its New Jersey faction, appoints one of the capos to supervise it. Another example was John Gotti, who was the de facto head of the Gambino family's blue-collar crews prior to becoming boss.
  • Soldier - a soldato, "wiseguy", "button man", or "made guy." This is the lowest level of mobster who is considered a full and official member of the "family". A soldier must have taken an oath in which he has sworn to follow the rules of the Mafia (such as omertà), and with a few exceptions, must have killed a person in order to be considered "made."note  This entitles them to the full protection of the family in question. Killing or assaulting a soldier, or even infringing on their rackets without explicit permission of their higher-ups, is a big no-no in the mob, as the offender will meet a violent end. American mafiosi may refer to a made man among other made men as "a friend of ours" — which means that any business pertaining to the family can be openly discussed. As a rule of thumb, two made men must always be formally introduced by a third party known to both, even if they're father and son. Picciotto is used within the Sicilian Mafia and indicates someone of a lower rank than that of Soldato. In the American Mafia, only males of Italian descent can become a made man, and must trace their lineage through their father's side.
  • Associates - "Giovane d'onore" (man of honor), "cugino" (cousin), or "connected guy". An associate is a person who is not a soldier in a crime family, but works for them and shares in the execution of and profits from the criminal enterprise. In Italian criminal organizations, "associates" are usually members of the criminal organization who are not of Italian descent, or junior members who may someday rise to become soldiers for the family; this process can take a decade or longer depending upon the family and the individual's qualifications. It can also be tricky sometimes, as associates with a history of making serious money often commanded respect beyond their title. Distinctions are usually drawn between those associates loosely associated with the family, and those who have gone "on record" with a specific made guy — the latter are more tightly controlled in their dealings and are usually prime candidates for membership. American mafiosi may refer to an associate as "a friend of mine," rather than "a friend of ours," a quiet warning to watch what is said in their presence since the associate is an outsider. Giovane d'onore is unique to the Camorra. Non-Italians will never go beyond this rank, but many of them, such as Meyer Lansky, Jimmy "the Gent" Burke, Bugsy Siegel, Bumpy Johnson, and Mickey Cohen were widely respected and even earned the respect of actual Mafia members. And although Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa could not become officially made because they were NYPD officers, they solicited their services to the New York mob as cold-blooded hitmen.
    • Note: At one time, one had to be a full-blooded Italian to be a full member of the American Mafia, but the rules seem to have loosened as time went on. Despite this flexibility, some families may be more stringent than others as to who they want to induct.

The Mafia Families:

There were, at one point, 20+ Mafia families in the United States, though many have since become defunct or are in decline because of increased law enforcement scrutiny, internal warfare, a decline in racketeering activities, not enough pool of wannabes to draw from, or old age.

New York City Families:

    Bonanno Crime Family 
  • Bonanno crime family - Has a huge presence in northern Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Bushwick, Knickerbocker Avenue and Greenpoint), southern Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Avenue), Queens (Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Sunnyside and Metropolitan Avenue) and Staten Island with smaller crews and factions in Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester, New Jersey, Florida and Canada; the family also has a "Zip" faction and formerly had a crew based in Arizona until the 1960s. Though a mid-sized family with membership hovering between 140 and 160 made men, they sometimes held the top spot, especially with the feds hammering down indictments on the other families in the 1990s. Being that the other mob families see them as wild hillbillies, they're also the unruliest, owing to their independent streak since the Castellammarese War, as their generally disruptive behavior even threw them out of the Commission in the 1980s.

    Many of the family's earliest members came from Castellammare del Golfo, a seaside town in western Sicily, and settled down in Williamsburg, including family namesake Joe Bonanno. It was also very tight-knit and considered to be the most Sicilian of the Five Families, since most of them were Castellammarese or had personal ties to that town. Eventually, the family came under Salvatore Maranzano's sway, who came to the United States after escaping from Mussolini's death squads in the 1920s and fancied himself as a mob version of Caesar, but Joe "the Boss" Masseria, the boss of the Morello gang, saw him as a growing threat to his power base, and tried to violently take over Maranzano's bootlegging rackets. Maranzano resisted, and this led to a bloody Mob War that only ended with Masseria's death in 1931.

    With Masseria dead, Maranzano declared himself to be the Boss of all Bosses, reneging on the peace deal he made with Luciano prior to Masseria's death to ensure peace between the two sides. Soon enough, the power went into his head, and Maranzano wanted to kill Luciano, Costello, and Genovese. But Luciano somehow got wind of this, and using this info, alongside the fact that Maranzano was facing a potential tax audit like Al Capone before him, he makes a move before Maranzano gets to him, and the Boss of Bosses is eliminated on September 10, 1931 by hitmen posing as IRS agents.

    With the old guard eliminated, Maranzano's protégé and ambitious underboss Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno took over in late 1931. Bonanno even forged close ties with bosses such as Joe Profaci, Genovese, Luciano, Costello and Anastasia. He even became a major drug lord despite blatantly denying any involvement, working with the Sicilians and Corsicans on importing heroin into the United States, and because of Bonanno's deep involvement in heroin smuggling, his family was pejoratively nicknamed the "Heroin" family. Yet like his mentor, he harbored even bigger ambitions and sought to become the boss of bosses after Vito Genovese's failed bid by eliminating several of his rivals (notably his cousin Steve Magaddino, Carlo Gambino, Tommy Lucchese and Los Angeles boss Frank DeSimone) on the Commission in the 1960s.

    But Bonanno's plan came to a sputtering halt when Joe Colombo, a capo in the Profaci family and the designated gunman, instead spilled the beans to the Commission. Bonanno was ordered to come forward several times, but he was a no-show, and simply went AWOL by faking his own kidnapping in late 1964; at the same time, he was facing a grand jury subpoena investigating organized crime in the aftermath of Apalachin and the Valachi hearings. While Bonanno later claimed in a TV interview that he was picked up by the Buffalo mob, it certainly was a Blatant Lie, as his fellow bosses were blindsided by his kidnapping stunt, while his henchmen were angry that he "took off like a coward." After months of no word from Bonanno, the Commission named Gaspar DiGregorio as the new boss in 1965, but it wasn't acknowledged by Bill Bonanno (Bonanno's son and the family consigliere at the time), triggering an internal Mob War. However, little to no action took place until an attempted sit-down between the two factions in early 1966 resulted in a shootout. Miraculously, nobody got killed, but the Commission shelved DiGregorio; the botched hit on Bill also forced Joe to come out of hiding, and the shootings then intensified. The war only ended when Joe and his sons Bill and Joe Jr. were forcibly retired to Arizona in late 1968, while Paul Sciacca, a DiGregorio loyalist, was named the new boss.

    After Bonanno's forced retirement, the family was known to have a revolving door of weak and ineffectual bosses in the 1970s and its troubles didn't end there. Although Sciacca was named boss in 1968, some of his capos attempted to kill him but they were eliminated; Sciacca himself was removed from power in 1971 after being imprisoned on narcotics trafficking charges. Natale Evola was named boss, but had a short reign as he died of cancer in 1973. The Commission then appoints Philip "Rusty" Rastelli to head-up the troubled Bonannos, but Carmine Galante, Joe Bonanno's former underboss, seized power despite no support from the Commission. He even tried to push off Rastelli and name himself boss, but the Commission immediately saw him as a threat and had him killed in 1979. Despite this, Galante loyalists such as Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato still didn't recognize Rastelli as boss and wanted to avenge Galante's death, almost thrusting the family into another internal Mob War, but the threat died out when Indelicato and two other Galante loyalist capos were rubbed out by Rastelli supporters in 1981 and the remaining Galante supporters were forced to acknowledge Rastelli as boss. However, the Donnie Brasco incident, in which an FBI agent infiltrated one of the crews and almost got made, did throw the family out of the Commission aside from their generally disruptive behavior, rampant heroin smuggling, and the on-and-off infighting that's been going since Joe Bonanno was booted out. Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, whose crew was unwittingly infiltrated by Joe Pistone aka "Donnie Brasco," ended up dead and his hands chopped off as a warning to others to never shake hands with cops, while several wiseguys tied to Sonny Black were either killed, demoted in rank or imprisoned.

    With Rusty Rastelli in damage control mode in the aftermath of these scandals, bugged conversations between mobsters in the other families revealed why it was necessary to throw the Bonannos out of the Commission, and how Rastelli's over-reliance on "junk men" to make up for the monetary losses they incurred after being cut off from joint rackets could endanger them. Also at this time, former boss Joe Bonanno gave a TV interview on his tell-all book A Man of Honor, but it only added more fuel to the fire as US Attorney Rudy Giuliani later used his book and the TV interview in the Commission Trial, while making him more loathsome in the eyes of his fellow mobsters, with some of them even saying that he should not have written the book in the first place. By this time, the family was largely seen as a joke by both the FBI and wiseguys in the other families, but being cut off from joint rackets with other families actually benefited them as they were the only one of the Five Families to avoid an indictment on the Commission Trial, enabling them to quietly rebuild their lost power base while the other families were bogged down with long prison sentences and mobsters turning informer to save their skin.

    After Rastelli's death in 1991, Joe Massino took over as boss, and he quickly worked to rebuild the family to its former glory by adding new made members, bringing the family membership back to approx. 160 made men, and expanding into Wall Street scams, union racketeering and white-collar fraud. Massino was even proud that the family never had any rats since 1931. Wary of how the FBI used various tactics to bring down his peers and preferring to operate with a low profile, Massino shuttered the family's usual haunts, avoided using phones as he knew they could be bugged, arranged family meetings in remote locations by passing them off as "family vacations," and used a clandestine cell system for his crews by forbidding them from contacting one another, avoid meeting their capos, and reduce their contact with members of other families whenever possible. Upset at family namesake Joe Bonanno's tell-all book and how it was used in the Commission Case, Massino tried to rename the family after himself, but this didn't catch on outside the mob.

    By the turn of the century, Massino was recognized as the last full-fledged and most powerful boss on the Commission, allowing him to be in a position to impose new rules for the Mafia during an ad-hoc Commission meeting in 2000. Remembering how the Donnie Brasco scandal nearly destroyed the mob, Massino decreed that wannabes must be of full Italian descent who must be supervised by two made members for some time before being sponsored in hopes of testing their reliability, added restrictions on initiating those with drug convictions, and encouraged the other families to induct their sons as an insurance policy. By doing this, this would make it less likely that a capo would snitch, since if that happened, the defector's son would be vulnerable. Massino being the last free "real" boss of a crime family, and the family's perceived tight discipline led to the press indicating the Bonnano family was ascendant, and could possibly supplant the Lucchese or Colombo families (or in particularly imaginative reporter's minds, the Genovese or Gambino families) as a major player in the New York underworld. This was, by and large, hogwash. Under Massino, the Bonnano family was for all intents and purposes autarkic; the family stuck to its drug and street-level rackets, avoided getting into lucrative businesses with other families, had minimal presence in the very lucrative New York construction scene, and never expanded beyond what was already the smallest number of button men for any New York family.

    But this all came crashing down in 2002 when several of his button men actually flipped, especially Salvatore Vitale, who saw Massino as a Big Brother Mentor to him, but once Massino gets out of jail in 1992, their relationship slowly became shaky to the point that Massino wanted him dead, and this became the ultimate catalyst for Vitale to flip in 2003. Massino faced life imprisonment, and it was upgraded to the death penalty in 2004 after one of the murders he committed was linked to him. In hopes of saving his life, he became the first official boss of a crime family to turn rat, testifying against his handpicked successor Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano in 2005. Once again, the Bonannos are now in shambles after Massino flipped against his former mob colleagues, and are still struggling to rebuild themselves in the aftermath. The family is now headed by Michael Mancuso, who took over as boss following Basciano's imprisonment in 2013.

    Colombo Crime Family 
  • Colombo crime family - Big presence in western Brooklyn (notably Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Gowanus and Carroll Gardens) and Staten Island, with smaller crews and factions in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island and Florida; also has a crew based in Los Angeles (the family used to have a faction in New Jersey, but that has been disbanded since the 1990s). Currently the weakest of the Five Families thanks to numerous informants (current membership is around 110-130 made men), ineffectual and/or publicity-hungry bosses, and internal wars since the 1960s, the Colombos used to be much stronger thanks to their ties with the Bonanno family.

    Originally a small and fairly-well organized gang of Sicilian mafiosi hailing from the town of Villabate (not far from Palermo), the crime family was originally known as the Profaci crime family after the first boss, Giuseppe Profaci, who established good ties with Joe Bonanno, the boss of the Bonanno crime family at the time. But despite becoming a wealthy man thanks to his olive oil and tomato paste businesses, which were used as covers for his rackets, Profaci was widely known to be a notoriously tightfisted and greedy penny-pincher in mob circles, as he even demanded a $25 monthly "tribute" be kicked up to him, and his stubborn attitude regarding the "tribute" led to the first internal turf war in the late 1950s. It began when Profaci originally agreed to, but suddenly balked at giving Joe Gallo, the alleged gunman behind the Albert Anastasia hit, a lucrative numbers policy game formerly owned by Brooklyn-based capo Frank "Frankie Shots" Abbatemarco, who was killed for refusing to paying the monthly "tax" Profaci always demanded from his men.

    At first, it seemed that Gallo would win this battle because he had secured the backing of Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese, Profaci's Arch Enemies on the Commission, and managed to kidnap four of the family's top caporegimes, but soon enough, most of the family's 150 or so wiseguys lined up with Profaci. Carmine Persico, a Gallo loyalist who would eventually become boss, secretly defected to the Profaci faction when he realized Gallo was the wrong horse to bet upon, knowing that Profaci had everything to keep this battle going. After switching sides, Persico decided to officially betray the Gallo crew by trying to kill Joe Gallo's younger brother Larry at a bar via strangulation, but he survived the murder attempt thanks to a passing policeman who witnessed the attack, forcing Persico and his men to flee, and as a result of the botched hit and his treachery, Persico was derisively nicknamed "the Snake" for betraying the Gallo crew. Profaci died of liver cancer in 1962, but his underboss Joe Magliocco continued the battle against the remaining renegades.

    The war ended with Gallo's arrest in 1963, but Magliocco soon became embroiled in an audacious plan allegedly hatched by Joe Bonanno to eliminate several of their rivals and take over the Mafia Commission. However, their scheme sputtered to an abrupt halt when Joe Colombo, another capo in the Profaci family and the designated gunman, exposed their plot to the Commission. Since the other bosses knew that Magliocco was in ill health at this time, he was spared but forced was forced to pay a $50,000 fine and resign as Profaci family boss in favor of Colombo. Bonanno was also ordered to come forward several times, but was a no-show despite being asked to explain, and he fled to avoid being killed in 1964 by staging a phony kidnapping. With Gambino's backing, Colombo was named the new boss and renamed the family after his last name.

    But to Gambino's dismay, Colombo was too publicity-friendly, as he frequently claimed the FBI was falsely targeting Italian-Americans by forming a political group to decry the FBI's actions, and went so far to ally with Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League. Colombo's henchmen and peers saw him as a Gambino flunky, but they couldn't make a move due to Gambino backing him at the time. However, Colombo's antics later came back to bite him, when he was later gunned down during a rally at Columbus Circle in 1971, and relapsed into a coma which he never recovered from, and died in 1978. This led to another internal turf war, and the family pinned the blame on the Gallos, though it was speculated that Colombo's rivals, including Gambino, ordered it because he was bringing too much publicity. Joe Gallo was later killed in 1972 while dining with his family, thus ending the 2nd family war, with the remaining Gallo crew members later joining the Genovese family.

    Carmine Persico took over the family in 1973, but spent much of his reign imprisoned, and used a series of acting bosses and ruling panels to maintain his grip on the family from behind bars. Persico and his acting boss, Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella, were later indicted on the Mafia Commission Case in 1986, facing 100+ year life sentences. Many have pointed out that the Colombos suffered more long-term damage than any other family as a result of the Commission Trial, as Persico was in his early 50s compared to his peers, who were much older. To ensure that he remained as the official boss, Persico even groomed his son Alphonse to become the acting boss and eventual successor, but Allie Boy was convicted to life imprisonment in a separate trial. Persico then nominated Victor Orena, his cousin and a capo, to become the street boss, but Persico made it clear that Orena was merely a placeholder until his son's release. However, Orena harbored bigger ambitions and felt envious of the Persicos dominating the family. The Colombos would split again for a 3rd time in the early 1990s when Orena, who felt Persico was out of touch and was planning to do a TV interview much like how Joe Bonanno did one in 1983 after writing a tell-all book about his life, and how the book was later used in the Mafia Commission Trial, tried to take over as boss.

    While Persico won the battle after 12 deaths (including three innocent bystanders), 18 associates missing and 12 of his men turning informer, the Colombos have been weakened in recent years because of numerous informants and more government crackdowns in recent years. Despite being imprisoned, Persico continued to run the family until his death in 2019, but the Colombos have yet to recover from the tumultuous 1990s. Many in and out of the mob have commented about how the Colombos were decimated over the years, all because Persico wanted to keep on running the show even after repeated indictments, his treachery, and pressure from his peers to step down.

    Gambino Crime Family 
  • Gambino crime family - Big presence in southern and western Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Bensonhurst and the Brooklyn docks), Queens (Howard Beach, the Rockaways and JFK Airport), Long Island and Staten Island, with smaller crews and factions in Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester, New England, New Jersey, California and Florida (the family once had a crew based in Baltimore until the 1990s); the family also has a big "Zip" faction (the Cherry Hill Gambinos). Once the biggest crime family, it is now a shell of its former self due to John Gotti's media-hungry antics and subsequent imprisonment in 1992. Under Carlo Gambino's reign, it had around 450 made men, but that has since dipped to between 225-250 made men in the 1990s.

    The family had its origins in the large Brooklyn faction of the Morello (now Genovese) crime family, and broke off into its own family in the 1920s. It first came to prominence under the Mangano brothers (Phil and Vincent), who held an iron fist over the Brooklyn waterfront, thanks to their underboss Albert Anastasia, but the relationship between Anastasia and the Mangano brothers was rocky from the start, partly because Vincent resented Anastasia's close ties to Luciano, Costello, Bonanno and other top mobsters outside his family, as well as his strong influence on Murder, Inc. and the waterfront unions on the New York City and New Jersey dockyards.

    Anastasia later took over the family after eliminating the Mangano brothers in 1951, with Phil's body left to rot in a swamp in Brooklyn and Vincent vanishing without a trace. He was known to be a ruthless boss, thanks to his prior experience as the head of Murder, Inc. in the 1930s, and with Costello and Bonanno's prodding, the Commission confirmed Anastasia's ascension as head of the renamed Anastasia family, as Costello wanted to restrain Vito Genovese's ambitions to usurp Costello's position. However, Anastasia's past came back to bite him, as he had murdered his own boss without obtaining the Commission's approval, combined with trying to muscle in on Meyer Lansky's casino rackets in Cuba. Furthermore, Anastasia was considered to be unpredictable, and the other bosses were concerned someone in Anastasia's family had been selling memberships for $50,000 to unqualified persons, a clear violation of Commission rules that infuriated many rank-and-file wannabe mobsters in the other families, who had to wait for some time before joining. He was assassinated in a famous gangland hit in 1957 orchestrated by Carlo Gambino and Genovese.

    Gambino, the family's namesake and Anastasia's successor, led it to prosperous times thanks to his strong ties with Tommy Lucchese, and both of them would further solidify this alliance into a relationship when Gambino's son Thomas married one of Lucchese's daughters in 1962. Not only that, he also started bringing in imported Sicilian mobsters ("Zips") in an aggressive effort to expand into to international rackets and smuggle in heroin despite the so-called drug "ban." To further strengthen his grip on the family, he even promoted his cousin Paul Castellano as capo. Remembering how previous attempts by Joe Bonanno and Vito Genovese to dominate the Mafia through violence failed spectacularly, with Genovese being imprisoned on narcotics charges and Bonanno exiled off to Arizona, Gambino commanded an army of roughly 450 made men and 2,000 wannabes, and became the Mafia's de facto grandmaster through manipulation, while the other families in New York and elsewhere were facing various problems such as turf wars, legal issues or leadership crises. But before his death in 1976, Gambino made his biggest mistake by naming his Castellano as his successor over his underboss Neil Dellacroce, who was the most likely candidate for succeeding Gambino, but was imprisoned at the time for tax evasion.

    This decision immediately split the family into two factions; the pro-Dellacroce faction, led by John Gotti, believed that Castellano did not earn his stripes on the street, and was seen as a pampered Yes-Man who simply inherited the position because of his blood ties to Gambino despite being a big earner for the family. Castellano took control of the so-called "white collar crimes" that included stock embezzlement, construction, labor unions and other big money rackets, while Dellacroce kept control of the traditional Cosa Nostra activities such as bookmaking, loansharking and gambling. To keep a check on the brash Gotti loyalists, Castellano relied on the Roy DeMeo crew, while also allying with an Irish gang called the Westies in construction rackets. Though he disapproved of Gambino's choice of picking Castellano as boss, Dellacroce still managed to keep the peace between the two factions for the next 9 years until his death from cancer in 1985, but still, there were simmering tensions between Gotti and Castellano, as the latter became increasingly greedy. Castellano even began to demand a 15% tribute instead of the usual 10% in some cases, and though there was an unofficial "ban" placed by Gambino, who ordered his men not to get caught dealing drugs, this was often ignored as even Castellano oftentimes flouted this so-called "ban" by accepting drug payments from several of his capos, including the Zip faction, and from the Gotti and Roy DeMeo crews.

    By this time, Rudolph Giuliani, an aggressive US Attorney who thought the Mafia brought shame to honest Italian-Americans, prodded the federal government to launch a criminal case against the Five Families by actively targeting the bosses, with Castellano topping the list because he was the Mafia Commission's chairman at the time. By 1985, Castellano was in a slew of problems, ranging from legal pressure from the federal government, personal problems with his family after they found out about his affair with his maid, and dissension among the rank-and-file, especially from the Dellacroce/blue-collar faction, who despised the way he was running the family. A few weeks after Dellacroce's death in December 1985, Castellano was gunned down outside Sparks Steak House on the orders of Gotti, who was reportedly angry that Castellano was a no-show at his mentor's funeral; other reasons included Castellano's greed, the prospect of Castellano turning informer in the wake of the Commission case because he often badmouthed other mobsters behind their backs, and a fear that he might kill Gotti in a dispute over the unofficial "ban" on drug dealing.

    Gotti took over after Castellano's assassination, but his tenure as boss was marred by frequent indictments as he was under intense FBI scrutiny since the 1970s, assassination attempts by rival mob bosses who were outraged at the unsanctioned hit on Castellano, and his media-hungry profile. Many of his own henchmen and contemporaries despised him of his publicity-hungry, flamboyant, in-your-face personality, and by the early 1990s, his underboss Sammy Gravano, fed up with Gotti's antics, decided to secretly cooperate with the FBI, spilling the beans about Gotti's crimes. Though Joe Massino was a staunch supporter of Gotti, as both began their mob careers as truck hijackers and Gotti at one point tried to get the Bonanno family its Commission seat, their relations slowly became strained in the 1990s due to Massino fearing that Gotti had planned to kill him and elevate his brother-in-law Sal Vitale as boss of the Bonannos. Gotti was imprisoned for life in 1992 after ducking several attempts by federal prosecutors to have him indicted, and died of cancer 10 years later.

    Though John Gotti's brother Peter took over as boss in 2002 and still runs the family from behind bars despite a life sentence, he's been pretty much marginalized, as the Zips effectively dominated the Gambinos and chose to keep a low profile due to Gotti's shenanigans. In March 2019, Francesco "Frankie Boy" Cali, the street boss for the family, was killed outside his home by a lone assassin, and the murder of a major mob kingpin since the Castellano hit. Many originally speculated the hit could spark a new Mob War by old-timers who felt threatened by his meteoric rise, by Americanized mobsters who thought little of the Zips, or by disgruntled henchmen who hated the way Cali was running the show. If the hit was ordered by rival mob bosses, an external turf war could break out between the Five Families, but the situation seems to have subsided when it turned out a lone gunman was responsible for the Cali hit, though lingering fears remain that the Mafia could order the gunman's death, as this was an unsanctioned hit on a made man, especially a mob boss.

    Genovese Crime Family 
  • Genovese crime family - Large presence in Manhattan (Little Italy, 116th Street/East Harlem, Lower East Side, Greenwich Village and the Manhattan/New Jersey waterfronts), the Bronx (Morris Park, Pelham Bay and Arthur Avenue), Westchester, northern New Jersey and Connecticut, with smaller crews and factions in Queens, Brooklyn and Florida (the family also has a small crew in Springfield, Massachusetts). Regarded as the Ivy League of organized crime, the family is still the strongest and biggest of the Five Families, as the family size has historically varied from 250 to 450 made men; current membership is around 250-275 made men.

    The oldest of the New York families, it was originally known as the Morello crime family and was led by the Morello brothers, who originally came from Corleone, and dominated organized crime in Italian Harlem, Little Italy and the Bronx as a Black Hand extortion ring, and soon enough, they expanded into numbers running, murder-for-hire, armed robbery, and loansharking. In the 1910s, the Morello brothers entered into a brief gang war with the Neapolitan Camorra, and absorbed the remnants after the Camorra were defeated. In the 1920s, two breakaway factions, one in Brooklyn and another in East Harlem, branched out to become their own families, even though the Morellos became wealthier through bootlegging and prostitution. Eventually, the family came under the control of Morello capo Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria, who had a known penchant for violence and was notoriously greedy. His heavy-handed attempts to strong-arm and control the other Italian gangs in exchange for a "street tax," especially the Williamsburg-based Castellammarese Clan, provoked a violent response, which claimed at least 150+ lives and dragged on until Masseria was gunned down while having lunch with Lucky Luciano at a Coney Island restaurant in 1931. It is said that Luciano took a bathroom break when four gunmen suddenly burst in and started shooting at Masseria. Reportedly, the gunmen involved in the Masseria hit were Vito Genovese, Bugsy Siegel, Joe Adonis and Albert Anastasia.

    Sal Maranzano, now the nominal victor of this turf war, immediately wasted no time into reorganizing the Five Families (and by extension, the entire Mafia) under his control by declaring himself the boss of bosses. Reacting negatively to this, Luciano realized that Maranzano was Not So Different from Masseria, being that both were Mustache Petes who frequently stymied the Young Turks' desire to branch out to other ethnic gangs. So, Luciano and his allies decided that the boss of all bosses had to go, and Maranzano was killed in late 1931, allowing the Young Turks to effectively dominate the American Mafia.

    With the old guard out of the way, Luciano can now consolidate his own power base, appointing Genovese as his underboss and Frank Costello as consigliere. He then revolutionized the American Mafia by forming a Commission to settle disputes and encouraging the other bosses to work with each other instead of "hitting the mattresses." However, he faced an indictment from Thomas Dewey for running a prostitution ring in 1937 and was deported back to Italy in 1946, where he worked with the Sicilian mafia to establish an international drug trafficking empire.

    Although Genovese was the prime candidate to succeed Luciano, he himself faced a murder indictment and fled to Italy in 1937, so the family was taken over by Costello, a key political fixer. Costello had huge gambling and white-collar rackets in New York City and was always craving to go legitimate. It was once said that no municipal judge, official, or politician could accept their position without securing Costello's personal backing. He even had behind-the-scenes influence over Tammany Hall (the local Democratic political machine) through proxies such as Carmine DeSapio and Robert Wagner. But the Kefauver hearings in 1951 were aimed at proving that a secretive Italian organization based on strong family ties was behind a big organized crime conspiracy in the United States, and Costello's reputation took a big hit because of this. By the late 1950s, he faced a growing threat from Vito Genovese, who was Luciano's former underboss and was silently eliminating allies of Costello after returning to the United States in 1945 (notably Albert Anastasia, head of the Mangano family, and William "Willie Moore" Moretti, Costello's underboss). By 1957, Genovese, with the sufficient backing of Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese, then ordered a hit on Costello in May, though Costello manages to survive the hit by getting away with only a scalp wound thanks to the gunman's unintentional warning, and steps down to avoid further bloodshed.

    Genovese, taking over after Costello's forced retirement, then ordered a hit on rival mob boss Albert Anastasia and called for an emergency meeting of mob bosses to explain the growing power vacuum in New York that's been going on since the botched hit on Costello, to consolidate his power base, and as well as to discuss the growing drug trade in late 1957. But the Apalachin Meeting turned into a big fiasco as it exposed the Mafia to outside scrutiny for the first time, and the other bosses (notably Gambino and Lucchese, who switched sides and supported Costello, Luciano and Lansky) had him falsely implicated on a drug charge. To make matters worse, a low-level mob soldier named Joe Valachi became the first made man to flip and testify about the American Mafia's inner workings; Valachi feared Genovese ordered a hit on him, hence his rationale to cooperate with federal authorities in 1963. Genovese continued to rule the family from prison via ruling panels and acting bosses until his death in 1969.

    After Genovese died, the family was nominally led by a number of "dummy" bosses. We say "dummy" bosses because Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo, the family's street boss since 1962, was regarded as the de facto boss and had the final say in family matters, especially since Genovese's death in 1969. Lombardo, a low-key and reclusive man who chose to stay in the shadows, took a relaxed approach to doing things and preferred to delegate authority to high-ranking capos to insulate himself so that the FBI would go after the wrong person while the real boss remains hidden. This plan appears to have worked for him, as Lombardo was never caught; instead, he stepped down due to poor health and named Vincent "Chin" Gigante, the alleged gunman behind the Costello hit, as his successor in 1981. To disguise this transition, Lombardo designated Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno as the new "front" boss.

    Gigante proved to be even more cautious and shadowy than Lombardo. He also ruled through a "dummy" boss ("Fat Tony" Salerno), but that was just the start. Not only did he limit his contact with his underlings to a very narrow subset of his administration, he refused to discuss business in a voice louder than a whisper, insisted that nobody in the Mob ever mention his name, and ordered his men to beat up anybody who dared to do so. His underlings and contemporaries got around this by pointing to their chins or making "C" shapes with their hands.note  He also shielded himself from law enforcement scrutiny by feigning insanity and pretending to have a low IQ. It worked until 1997, when he was imprisoned for multiple racketeering and murder charges, and finally admitted to pulling the "crazy stunt" as a way to throw off investigators for years in 2003.note 

    Gigante ran the family from prison until his death in 2005, and since his death, it is implied the family now uses a ruling panel of capos to manage its daily affairs and to avoid FBI attention, with Liborio "Barney" Bellomo (a protege of Vincent Gigante and the head capo of the 116th Street crew) pretty much having the final say on family matters, in a matter reminiscent of Philip Lombardo in the 1970s.

    Lucchese Crime Family 
  • Lucchese crime family - Has a large presence in the Bronx (especially Morris Park, Arthur Avenue, Pelham Bay and Throggs Neck), East Harlem, Westchester, New England and northern New Jersey, with smaller crews and factions in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island, Queens and Florida.

    It began as a splinter crew of the Morello gang's Bronx-East Harlem faction, becoming an independent group taking over the Morello family's bootlegging rackets in the early 1920s. It was something of the Franz Ferdinand of the Castellammarese War, as Joe Masseria's attempt to violently replace the family's boss ended up throwing the rest of the family under the sway of Sal Maranzano, starting open conflict between the two groups. Since family membership has often hovered between 120 and 160 made men, the Luccheses were widely reckoned as the smallest and most peaceful of the Five Families until the violent purges led by Vic Amuso and Anthony Casso in the 1980s. The family's first official boss was Tommy Gagliano, who preferred to keep a low profile, concentrating on their criminal activities in the Bronx, Manhattan and New Jersey. He expanded the family's grip on the Garment District and often allowed his underboss Tommy Lucchese to do business with the other mob families while remaining hidden in the shadows. Gagliano kept such a low profile that virtually nothing is known about his activities from 1931 until his death in 1951.

    Gagliano died sometime in 1951, but named Lucchese as his successor before his death. Lucchese continued to maintain the family's grip on the Garment District, and soon controlled trucking rackets at the new Idlewild (now JFK) Airport; he also built close relations with Tammany Hall (the local Democratic Party political machine) and with politicians such as Carmine DeSapio, Robert F. Wagner and Vincent Impellitteri while jockeying with Frank Costello over who should control Tammany Hall. Lucchese also backed Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino in their fights to take control of their respective families, but chose to build a closer relationship with Gambino after the disastrous Apalachin Meeting of 1957 - in fact, Gambino's son Thomas married his daughter Frances in 1962, and in return, Lucchese gave Gambino full access to rackets at JFK Airport. By 1962, Lucchese and Gambino were the dominant forces on the Commission, as they encouraged internal turf wars within the Profaci/Colombo and Bonanno families, and had Genovese imprisoned on presumably trumped-up narcotics charges.

    Lucchese died of cancer in 1967, and was replaced by Carmine Tramunti, who had a good relationship with the other bosses; Tramunti later branched out in construction and narcotics trafficking. Tony "Ducks" Corallo took over as boss in 1973 after Tramunti was indicted and convicted for narcotics trafficking in the infamous French Connection case, and expanded the family's rackets in labor unions. Under Corallo's reign, one of the most notorious robberies took place - the Lufthansa Heist. The heist occurred when several truck hijackers linked to Jimmy "the Gent" Burke and Paul Vario ran off with nearly $6 million in cash and jewelry. As with his predecessors, Corallo gradually took a laid-back approach to running the family, as he even was content with the reduced yearly cash tribute he received from the New Jersey crews. Though Corallo never discussed business during sit-downs or on phones due to fears the FBI could be recording those conversations, he used a car phone in his Jaguar, but was unaware that the FBI had managed to plant a bug in the vehicle, and this proved to be his undoing, as the bugged conversations were later used against him and his peers during the Commission case.

    When Paul Castellano was killed by John Gotti in late 1985, Corallo teamed up with Chin Gigante, boss of the Genovese family, to have Gotti and his loyalists killed for assassinating a boss without Commission backing, but failed several times as Gotti was surrounded by media all the time, though the Lucchese and Genovese hitmen manage to kill Gotti's underboss Frank DeCicco in April of 1986. Facing life imprisonment following the Mafia Commission trial in 1987, Corallo named Victor Amuso and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso as the new boss and underboss respectively, but his replacements proved to be a poor choice, as both Amuso and Casso were known to be violent hitmen and drug traffickers. Furthermore, the two of them came from the Brooklyn faction, while the previous bosses came from the Bronx-East Harlem faction, the family's main power base, causing many resentful wiseguys within the other Lucchese crews and factions to perceive them as interlopers.

    Soon enough, the two ordered anybody that was a purported informant to be marked for death, but it backfired since many wiseguys such as Alphonse D'Arco and Peter Chiodo were later forced to flip because of the increasingly erratic behavior of Amuso and Casso. Amuso even ordered a hit on the entire New Jersey faction when they failed to show up for a sit-down and pay a hefty tribute instead of the paltry sum offered by the crew, even going so far to demote the faction's head capo, Anthony Accetturo, to the mere rank of a soldier and replace him with an Amuso loyalist. Accetturo later flipped when Amuso ordered a hit on his wife, despite the Mafia's longtime ban on harming women, but Amuso never went through with it because of massive indictments against many mafiosi at the time.

    Both Amuso and Casso were captured in 1993, but Gaspipe decided to flip in 1994, revealing that two NYPD officers named Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa were on the Lucchese family's payroll for several years, working as contract killers for the Mafia; Eppolito even had relatives who were in the mob, but could never become a made man because he was a cop. Both Eppolito and Caracappa were sentenced to life imprisonment, but Casso was thrown out of the Witness Program in 1998 for numerous infractions. Amuso still runs the battered Lucchese family to this day via the help of ruling panels and acting bosses, a trait shared with the other Mafia families in New York.

Other crime families outside New York City:

    Northeastern Crime Families 
Northeastern United States:

  • Magaddino/Buffalo crime family - Nicknamed the Arm, this family ran much of upstate New York, with satellite crews in Rochester, Youngstown (Ohio), Toronto and southern Ontario. Originally founded by Stefano Magaddino (Joe "Bananas" Bonanno's cousin), this family is now largely in decline because of internal warfare, a dispute with Bonanno in the 1960s and Magaddino's death in 1974.
  • DeCavalcante/New Jersey crime family - the inspiration behind the Sopranos, this family runs rackets in Newark and Trenton (Atlantic City is under the Philly Mob's control, while Jersey City and the parts of NJ further north are under the Five Families' control).
  • Scarfo/Philadelphia crime family - Also nicknamed the Philly Mob, this family has control of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley, South New Jersey and Atlantic City. The Philly mob was once a peaceful crime family, but is now very notorious for its violent succession of bosses and multiple gangland wars in the 1980s and early 1990s. It even inspired Bruce Springsteen to write something about Philip "Chicken Man" Testa - the one they blew up in Philly last night. Nicodemo Scarfo ran the family for most of the 1980s, but was infamous for having a penchant for violence, causing many of his wiseguys to turn state's evidence against him, notably his nephew and underboss Phil Leonetti.
  • Patriarca/New England crime family - Nicknamed the Office, it controls much of New England and is split into two factions - Boston and Providence. Was once very powerful under Raymond Patriarca, the family's namesake between the 1950s and 1980s, but internal disputes and a war with James "Whitey" Bulger (who was actually an FBI informant) and his Winter Hill Gang nearly led to this family's decline, although it has been quietly building back its lost power base.
  • LaRocca/Pittsburgh crime family - has control of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and portions of Eastern Ohio. The family has been largely in decline since the death of John LaRocca in 1984.
  • Bufalino/Scranton-Wilkes-Barre crime family - Largely in decline, the family controlled NE Pennsylvania, the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area and the southern tier of New York. Joe Barbara, one of the earlier bosses of this family, was involved in the infamous Apalachin Meeting of 1957 following Albert Anastasia's death.
  • Rochester crime family - This family broke off from the Buffalo crime family in the 1960s to become its independent group. Like the Pittsburgh and Scranton families, the family has receded much of its criminal activities following the convictions of its top members in the 1990s.

    Southern United States Crime Families 
Southern United States:

  • Trafficante/Tampa Bay crime family - controls much of southern Florida (including Tampa Bay), except for Miami, which is an open territory. They reached their peak strength under Santo Trafficante Jr., who had gambling rackets in Cuba and had ties with Fulgencio Batista, then the president of Cuba in the 1950s. When the Cuban Revolution came by, he lost his gambling rackets and was involved in a botched CIA plot to rub off Fidel Castro; he was also presumably involved in a plot to kill JFK, though this has been disputed. Since his death, the family has been in decline, allowing the New York mafia to take control of rackets in the area.
  • New Orleans/Marcello crime family - Once controlled Louisiana, this family (also nicknamed the Combine) has been largely defunct due to Carlos Marcello's death in 1993. If the Genovese and Gambino families are the Yankees and Mets, the New Orleans family would be the Cincinatti Reds; they were the first known Mafia organization in the company (controlling groups of Italian stevedores in the aftermath of the American Civil War), before, too sure in their own power, they killed a police chief and were all but wiped out by an angry lynch mob. Marcello was aligned with Sam Giancana and Santo Trafficante, and was allegedly involved in a plot to kill JFK. In the 1980s, due to a string of convictions, the family has now receded much of its activities.
  • Dallas/Civello crime family - Once controlled Dallas, Houston and Austin, this family is now largely defunct since the 1990s. May have been involved in the plot to kill JFK, as Jack Ruby had been known to meet Joseph Civello, the boss of Dallas Mafia at the time.

    Midwestern United States Crime Families 
Midwestern United States:

  • Chicago Outfit - Apart from producing Al Capone, the Chicago Outfit also had influence over many of the Midwestern mafia families. The 1920s were marked with bloody turf wars, and the Outfit started to work behind the scenes following the St. Valentine's Day massacre. In 1932, Capone was charged with tax evasion, and was replaced by bosses (notably Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo, who had de facto control of the Outfit for nearly 50 years) who hated the spotlight. Soon enough, they expanded into Las Vegas and Hollywood, where they had begun to shake down labor unions and controlled gambling rackets. Sam Giancana, the street boss in the 1960s, was allegedly involved in a plot to kill Castro, and later, JFK; he was pushed out of power because of his too high-profile behavior. In the 1980s, the government managed to rid Las Vegas of mob influence, thereby diminishing the Outfit's hold on casinos. Though diminished in power, the Outfit still remains one of the more active Mafia families alongside the Philly Mob and the Five Families.
  • Zerilli crime family/Detroit Partnership - One of the more active Mafia families, this family has control over the Detroit metro area and parts of southern Ontario. It was involved with the Teamsters, notably with Jimmy Hoffa in the 1950s and 1960s; it is alleged that Joe Zerilli may have been involved in Hoffa's disappearance. Despite federal indictments, the family remains one of the more active Mafia families.
  • Scalish/Cleveland crime family - Nicknamed the Mayfield Road Mob, it was once one of the more active mafia families and had control over much of Ohio. In the 1970s, it was involved in a turf war with Irish mobster Danny Greene over control of union rackets; the war ended when Greene was killed in a car bomb planted by rival mobsters. In 1983, Angelo Lonardo, a high-ranking member of the Cleveland mob, decided to turn informer and give state's evidence against his fellow mobsters; this ultimately diminished the power of the Cleveland Mafia, still recovering from the war with Danny Greene and is now largely defunct.
  • Civella/Kansas City crime family - has control of Greater Kansas City and Nebraska. It was involved in gambling rackets in Las Vegas with the backing of the Outfit. Operation Strawman, a sting operation that included wiretapping phones of reputed mobsters, revealed that Kansas City mafia was involved in the skimming of gambling profits at the Tropicana Casino.
  • Giordano/St. Louis crime family - once an arm of the Kansas City Mafia, it broke off in the 1960s to become a separate crime family. Largely in decline since the 1990s.
  • Balistrieri/Milwaukee crime family - controls Milwaukee and Madison, it is largely in decline since the death of Frank Balistrieri in 1993. He was known to use car bombs to wipe out his enemies, and was once involved in a sting operation set up by the FBI (who had sent Joe Pistone), but declined to set up a vending machine operation with Pistone.

    Western United States Crime Families 
Western United States:

  • Dragna/Los Angeles crime family - Has control of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. It used to be much more powerful until the 1950s, but the family has been in decline since Frank DeSimone's death in 1967. For this reason, the family is nicknamed the Mickey Mouse mob because of DeSimone's incompetence (he never expanded the crime family). Jack Dragna, the previous boss, had earned a seat on the Commission thanks to his strong ties to the Five Families; he was also involved in a brief war with Mickey Cohen in the 1950s. In the 1980s, Jimmy Fratianno, a former underboss, decided to flip after he feared his rivals might order a hit on him; this ultimately diminished the power of the LA crime family, which has never recovered since then.
  • Smaldone/Denver crime family - This family once controlled rackets in Denver, Boulder and Pueblo in Colorado. Defunct since the 1990s.
  • Lanza/San Francisco crime family - This family once controlled Northern California and San Francisco. Defunct since the 1990s.
  • Cerrito/San Jose crime family - This family once controlled San Jose, the Bay Area and Santa Clara County. Like the other West Coast Mafia families, it is defunct since the 1990s.

Mob Lingo:

The American Mafia has a unique and colorful lexicon of describing things. Its collection of slang has been building for more than a century. Many of its words have entered mainstream language.

    Mobster Speak 
  • administration: the upper-level, three-man power structure/ruling panel of an organized crime Family, composed of the boss, underboss, and consigliere.
  • associate: an almost-there; someone who works with and for wiseguys, but who hasn't been sworn in as a member of the Family.
  • babania: Heroin, as in dealing. Lucrative but risky for mob insiders because if they're busted, long prison terms might compel them to cut a deal and squeal.
  • babbo: A dope, idiot, useless underling.
  • beef: a complaint or disagreement within the organization, usually discussed during a sit-down with higher-ups in the Family.
  • books, the: euphemism for membership in the Family, since nothing is ever written down. When there is an availability (when someone dies), the books are "opened." When no one is being "made," the books are "closed."
  • Boss of all bosses/Capo di tutti i capi: Term used by outsiders to describe an extremely powerful boss who wields significant influence within the Mafia. It hasn't been used since 1931, as the only person to hold it (Salvatore Maranzano) was murdered, and the title has been replaced by a council of mob bosses.
  • borgata: a crime Family; brugad. Sometimes used to describe a crew or faction within a Family.
  • broken: a made man who is demoted in rank or "knocked down". Though much better than being shelved, banned from the LCN or rubbed out, the wiseguy loses a lot of power when they're demoted from a very powerful underboss to a mere soldier.
  • brugad: a crime family; "borgata" rendered in Sicilian dialect.
  • bug/wire: An eavesdropping device, often used by informants to secretly record their conversations with their Mob colleagues. The wire device/bug transmits to a remote location where law enforcement agents monitor what is being said. Wearing a wire is viewed as risky since discovery of a hidden wire by a criminal could lead to violence against the mole or other retaliatory responses. At other times, FBI agents can install a bug inside mob hangouts to eavesdrop on conversations.
  • burn: to murder; synonyms: break an egg, clip, do a piece of work, hit, ice, pop, put out a contract on, whack, knock off, bump off, rub out.
  • button: a "made" member of the Mafia; soldier, wiseguy, goodfella, Man of Honor.
  • capo di tutti capi: The Boss of all Bosses, usually a phrase by outsiders to indicate an extremely powerful boss who wields significant influence in the Mafia. The Commission was created in 1931 to replace this title to prevent turf wars from breaking out.
  • capo consigliere: Very similar to the boss of bosses title, this denoted the first among equals of the New York bosses, who would arbitrate disputes between families; this also went by the wayside after the Castellammarese War and was never reestablished afterwards.
  • cafone/gavone: a phony or embarrassment to himself and others; "gavone" (slang pronunciation)
  • 'cagnolazzi': "wild dogs" – young wannabes working for, but not yet initiated into the Mafia.
  • Cement Shoes/cement overcoat: A largely fictional method of disposing bodies in a body of water, hoping that someone will not find the body. This is where the term "sleeping with the fishes" came from.
  • chased: to be permanently banned from the Mafia and barred from associating or doing business with any made members. The offender is spared, but are essentially declared Persona Non Grata within the mob.
  • cleaning: taking the necessary steps (driving around, stopping in various locations) to avoid being followed.
  • clock: to keep track of someone's movements and activities.
  • comare: a Mafia mistress; "goumada" (slang pronunciation).
  • come in: To go see the boss when summoned without question.
  • The Commission: The American Mafia's ultimate governing authority on mob matters. Replaced the Boss of Bosses title in 1931 to prevent turf wars from breaking out, it is the mob's version of a board of directors.
  • compare: crony, close pal, buddy. Literally, "godfather" in Italian.
  • contract/piece of work: a murder assignment.
  • Cosa Nostra: Italian for "this thing of ours," a mob family, the Mafia.
  • cosca: Sicilian term for Mafia crime family led by a capobastone or boss.
  • cowboy: A soldier or associate with a reputation for independent action or reckless activity.
  • crank/junk business: Euphemism for narcotics/drug trafficking, especially heroin.
  • crew: a group of soldiers that takes orders from a capo.
  • cugine: a young toughguy looking to be made.
  • double-decker coffin: A disposal method generally used by the Mafia, hoping that nobody will be able to find the corpse. Bodies of mob victims were tucked and concealed in hidden compartments below ones already in coffins. More an item of legend than something actually done; when burying a victim, it helps to not do anything to make law enforcement's job easier, such as providing an exact date of burial.
  • earner: someone whose expertise is making money for the Family. Someone who brings in a lot to the Family is considered to be a good/big earner.
  • eat alone: to keep for one's self; to be greedy.
  • empty suit: someone with nothing to offer who tries to hang around with mobsters.
  • enforcer/muscle: a person who threatens, maims, or kills someone who doesn't cooperate with Family rules or deals.
  • Farm out: Pass on a murder contract to another family.
  • Feds: Federal law enforcement agents. In the 1920s, it was the IRS; in the 1950s, it was the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and in the present day, the FBI.
  • fence: someone with worldwide outlets to liquidate swag.
  • flip: To become an informant, a government witness, to break the vow of omerta, and cooperate with law enforcement.
  • Friday night/Saturday night: A common code of conduct in the Mafia; members go out with mistresses on Friday and wives on Saturday. This is designed to prevent wives from running into girlfriends by accident.
  • friend of mine: introduction of a third person who is not a member of the Family but who can be vouched for by a Family member.
  • friend of ours: introduction of one made member to another.
  • get a place ready: To find a burial site.
  • gift: A bribe, sometimes for a juror.
  • give a pass: To grant a reprieve from being whacked.
  • give-up: A theft coordinated with the person who is ostensibly being robbed, such as a truck driver.
  • gofer/gopher boy: An errand boy for a mobster. Many mob wannabes often start out as errand boys.
  • going: About to be whacked.
  • going south: stealing, passing money under the table, going on the lam.
  • goombah, goomba, gumba, gumbah: Sicilian slang for the Italian compare; plural: goombata
  • green eyes: Greedy. Particularly used by members to refer to overly avaricious bosses.
  • hard-on with a suitcase: mob lawyer; feminine: half a hard-on with a suitcase.
  • heavy: to be armed with a weapon, packed up.
  • hot place: a location suspected of being the target of law enforcement or surveillance.
  • iron out: To straighten out things, especially disputes, beefs and vendettas before they spiral out of control.
  • joint, the: prison; synonyms: the can, the pen, go away to college, doing time, the slammer, Hoosegow, mainline joint, skinner joint, stoney lonesome, lockup, glasshouse, bucket, club fed, greybar hotel, big house, calaboose, castle, cooler, country club, crowbar hotel, digger, farm, guardhouse, hole, jug, juvie, pokey, rock, sneezer, stockade, the clink, brig, stir, skookum house, cage, coop, behind bars.
  • kiss of death: sign given by mob higher-ups that signifies that a member of the crime family has been marked for death, usually as a result of some perceived betrayal. It's usually a sign that the member has fallen out of favor with the higher-ups.
  • knockdown loan: Money provided by a loanshark with a predefined payment plan. Contrast with "vig loan" where only the interest is required to be paid regularly.
  • layoff: In illicit gambling operations, laying off means to hedge a bet with another bookie to correct for an imbalance in one's own collected bets. For example, if a Patriots-Jets game has a large amount of action on the Patriots and a smaller amount of action on the Jets, a bookie will place a Patriots bet with a layoff bookie so that if the Pats win he has enough money to pay the winners. The Mob's well-organized and well-capitalized structure meant (and means) that many independent operators, such as Bumpy Johnson in Harlem, would use the Mob to prevent their own banks from being wiped out.
  • loanshark: someone who lends mob money at an exorbitant interest rate; a shylock.
  • loose cannon: an unpredictable person who may cause long-term and unpredictable damage, whether through violence or by ratting out.
  • lupara: an Italian word used to refer to a sawn-off shotgun of the break-open type. Provides easy concealment, and a wider shot spread due to a shortened barrel.
  • lupara bianca: journalistic term to indicate a Mafia slaying done in such a way that the victim's body is never found, such as remote locations, dissolving the body in acid, or burying the corpse in the concrete found in construction sites. It also prevents the family of the victim from holding a proper funeral in absence of a body, and allows the killers to go Karma Houdini.
  • made: to be sworn into La Cosa Nostra; synonyms: to be "straightened out," to get your button, get inducted.
  • make a marriage: to bring two parties together for legitimate or illegitimate Family issues.
  • make your bones: Carrying out the first contracted (an on-the-book hit approved by the boss) killing in order to be accepted into the Mafia and become a made man. The hit proved absolute loyalty to the Mafia and, after the Donnie Brasco debacle, to show that the potential recruit is not an undercover cop. Murders committed for personal reasons do not count.
  • mattresses, hitting the, taking to the, going to the: going to war with a rival Family or gang.
  • meat eater: a corrupt cop (not exclusively mobspeak).
  • message job: placing the bullet in someone's body such that a specific message is sent to that person's crew or family
  • mulignan/moolie: "Eggplant." A derogatory term for African-Americans.
  • Mustache Petes: Old-fashioned or older generation Mafiosi.
  • nut, the: mobspeak for "the bottom line"; also the gross profit figure.
  • Omertà: the code of silence and one of the premier vows taken when being sworn into the Family. Violation of this is usually punishable by death.
  • off the record/books: an action taken without the knowledge or approval of the Family.
  • on the arm: Goods/services provided to Mafia members free of charge by legitimate businesses.
  • on the record/books: an action sanctioned by the Family.
  • on the carpet: The situation that occurs when a made guy's performance is harshly criticized by his superior.
  • on the lam: Moving secretly. Indicted mobsters, in an effort to avoid arrest, might go "on the lam," changing their address, moving secretly from place to place.
  • on the pad: Designation for a law enforcement officer who is paid by the underworld to ignore and turn a blind eye to certain criminal activity.
  • on the spot: Set up for assassination.
  • one-way ride: Euphemism for an execution method, where the victim is taken to a remote location and is killed off.
  • piece: a gun.
  • pinched/picked up: arrested.
  • pizzo: a 'tax' (extortion money) which retailers and freelance criminals alike pay tin exchange for operating in Mafia-controlled turf.
  • problem: A liability, someone likely to be whacked.
  • put on a shelf/the shelf: a made man who is forced into early retirement. Instead of being permanently banned from the LCN or whacked (rubbed out), the made man is no longer active and loses his power within the organization even though he is an official member.
  • rat: a member who violates Omerta; synonyms: squealer, informant, canary, snitch, stool pigeon, yellow dog, pentito, tell-tale.
  • sit-down/table: a meeting with the Family administration or with other Families to settle disputes.
  • shakedown: to blackmail, muscle in, extort or try to get money from someone; also to give someone a scare.
  • shy book: An individual loanshark's list of loans due payment. Considered company property in the event that the mobster flips or gets whacked.
  • shylock business: the business of loansharking.
  • skim: Tax-free gambling profits, as in the money taken that is not reported to the IRS.
  • sleeping with the fishes: Euphemism for a mob victim whose body was disposed of in the sea or other body of water.
  • social club: An offshoot of mainstream Italian-American culture, these were private storefront clubs where mobsters could go to hang out with each other. Most mob business was conducted out of these. Famous ones include the Ravenite (Neil Dellacroce's, then John Gotti's home base in Manhattan), the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club (the Gotti home base in Queens), and the Motion Lounge (the home base of the Sonny Black crew infiltrated by Donnie Brasco). Now more or less history due to appreciating real estate prices and increased surveillance of mob-owned establishments.
  • stand-up guy: someone who refuses to rat out the Family no matter what the pressure, offer, or threat.
  • strongarm: Protection rackets.
  • swag: stolen goods, also an acronym for "stolen without a gun."
  • tax: to take a percentage of someone's earnings.
  • through the eye: a message job through the eye to say "We're watching you!"
  • through the mouth: a message job through the mouth to indicate that someone WAS a rat.
  • vig: the interest payment on a loan from a loanshark (short for "vigorish"). Can also refer to a 10% surcharge on an even sports bet. Synonym: juice, vigorish.
  • vouch for: to personally guarantee—with one's life—the reputation of someone dealing with the Family.
  • walk talk, take a walk: to conduct a sensitive discussion while striding up and down the block to avoid being overheard on those pesky bugs.
  • waste management/garbage business: euphemism for organized crime.
  • wire: An electronic surveillance device secretly placed on an undercover operator to tape incriminating conversations.
  • wire room: A central exchange for gambling operations. Named as such for its large number of landline telephones.
  • wiretap: Tapped phoneline so law enforcement can record any incriminating conversations.
  • Witness Protection Program: Federal program used to provide security and a new identity to mobsters who chose to cooperate with law enforcement
  • Young Turks: Younger, less traditional generation of Mafiosi. Less likely to live by the old rules.
  • Zips, Siggys, Siggies, Jeeps: Derogatory terms used by Americanized mobsters for their imported Sicilian Mafiosi cousins.

Mobster Nicknames

    What's in a Mobster's Nickname? 
Big Tuna? Tony Ducks? Vinny the Chin? Since the mob is a Planet of Steves, with a large number of mobsters sharing the same first name, it became inevitable for them to distinguish each other with a unique nickname. They get their nicknames in many ways: their physical appearance, their occupation, where they live, a trait associated with them, the weapon they use when committing crimes, etc. For example, Louis Attanasio, a capo for the Bonannos, earned the nickname "Louie Ha-Ha" because he often laughed whenever he heard about mobsters dying. John Gotti was called "the Dapper Don" because of his penchant for wearing expensive suits, though his media-hungry personality irked many of his contemporaries.

While some mobsters, such as Crazy Joey Gallo, appreciated their monikers, for others, it became their Berserk Button, as it became an Embarrassing Nickname for them. For example, Carmine Persico was called "the Snake" by his rivals because he betrayed the Gallo crew by siding with Joe Profaci during the 1st Colombo family war in the 1960s. Persico hated it, but the name caught on among some fellow criminals. Meanwhile, Vincent Gigante asked his name never be spoken aloud, insisted others rub or point their fingers to their chin when referring to him, and ordered his men to beat up anybody who mentioned his name out of fear of getting his name picked up on FBI bugs.

Mafia Boss Succession:

    The Five Families of New York 

Bonanno Crime Family - Williamsburg, Knickerbocker Avenue, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Greenpoint, Bushwick and satellite crews in Montreal, Canada and Tucson

  • c. 1905—1908 — Salvatore Bonanno — stepped down
  • 1908—1925 — Vito "The King" Bonventre — stepped down, murdered on July 15, 1930
    • Front — 1912–1930 — Nicolo "Cola" Schirò — demoted
  • 1925—1931 — Salvatore "Little Caesar" Maranzano — murdered on September 10, 1931
  • 1931—1968 — Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno — forcibly replaced by the Commission, officially retires after a heart attack in 1968
    • Acting 1956—1957 — John "Johnny Burns" Morales
    • Acting 1964 — Frank "Uncle Frank" Labruzzo — for the Bonanno faction
    • Ruling Panel 1964—1965 — Gaspar "Gasparino" DiGregorio, Angelo Caruso, Nicolino Alfano, Paul Sciacca
    • Disputed 1965—1966 — Gaspar "Gasparino" DiGregorio — installed and forcibly removed by the Commission
    • Acting 1966—1968 — Paul Sciacca — for the DiGregorio faction
  • 1968—1971 — Paul Sciacca — imprisoned
  • 1971—1973 — Natale "Joe Diamonds" Evola — died on August 23, 1973
  • 1973—1991 — Phillip "Rusty" Rastelli — imprisoned 1975—1984 and 1986—1991
    • Acting 1974—1979 — Carmine "the Cigar" Galante — murdered on July 12, 1979
    • Acting 1979—1981 — Salvatore "Sally Fruits" Farrugia — appointed by the Commission
    • Acting 1981 — Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano — murdered on August 17, 1981
    • Acting 1981—1987 — Joseph "Big Joe" Massino — imprisoned
    • Acting 1987—1991 — Anthony "Old Man" Spero
  • 1991—2005 — Joseph "Big Joe" Massino — imprisoned January 2003, became government informant in October 2004
    • Acting 1991—1993 — Anthony "Old Man" Spero
    • Acting 2003—2004 — Anthony "Tony Green" Urso — imprisoned January 2004
  • 2005—2013 — Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano — imprisoned November 2004, in July 2007 received a life sentence
    • Acting 2004—2006 — Michael "the Nose" Mancuso — imprisoned February 2006
    • Acting 2006—2009 — Salvatore "the Iron Worker" Montagna — deported to Canada in April 2009, murdered in 2011
    • Acting 2010—2012 — Vincent "Vinny TV" Badalamenti — imprisoned in January 2012
  • 2013—present — Michael "the Nose" Mancuso — imprisoned in January 2013
    • Acting 2013—2014 — Thomas "Tommy D" DiFiore
    • Acting 2014—2015 — John Palazzolo
    • Acting 2015—2018 — Joseph "Joe C" Cammarano Jr.

Colombo Crime Family - Southern Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Long Island with satellite faction in Florida

  • c. 1928—1962 — Giuseppe "the Old Man" Profaci — died of natural causes
  • 1962–1963 — Joseph "Fat Joe" Magliocco — forcibly replaced by the Mafia Commission
  • 1963–1973 — Joseph Colombo — shot and incapacitated by assassination attempt, died in 1978
    • Acting 1971–1972 — Joseph "Joe Yak" Yacovelli — fled, after the murder of Joe Gallo
    • Acting 1972–1973 — Vincenzo "Vincent" Aloi — imprisoned
    • Acting 1973 — Joseph "Joey" Brancato — imprisoned
  • 1973-2019 — Carmine "the Snake" Persico — imprisoned 1973–1979, 1981–1984, 1985–2019
    • Acting 1973–1979 — Thomas DiBella — stepped down, became consigliere
    • Acting 1981–1983 — Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico — Carmine Persico's brother; fugitive 1980–1987, imprisoned
    • Acting 1983–1985 — Gennaro "Jerry Lang" Langella — imprisoned
    • Acting 1985–1987 — Anthony "Scappy" Scarpati — imprisoned
    • Acting 1987–1991 — Vittorio "Little Vic" Orena — Carmine Persico's cousin; imprisoned and sentenced to life
    • Acting 1994–1996 — Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo — imprisoned March 1997
    • Acting 1996–2000 — Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico — Carmine Persico's son; imprisoned 2000 to life
    • Acting 2000–2003 — Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace — in prison, awaiting trial for murder
    • Acting 2003–present — Andrew "Andy Mush" Russo
  • 2019-present — Alphonse "Little Allie Boy" Persico — Carmine Persico's son; imprisoned 2000 to life

Gambino Crime Family - Brooklyn Docks, Bensonhurst, Bath Avenue, Bay Ridge, Staten Island, Howard Beach with satellite crews in Baltimore, the Tampa Bay Area and Los Angeles

  • c. 1900-1910 — Ignazio "the Wolf" Lupo — imprisoned in 1910
  • 1910–1928 — Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila — took over the Brooklyn Camorra (Neapolitan Mafia) in 1916 and merged with Al Mineo's gang, forming the largest family in New York. He was killed on orders of rival kingpin Joe Masseria in 1928.
  • 1928–1930 — Manfredi "Alfred" Mineo — killed in the Castellammarese War in 1930 on orders of Sal Maranzano.
  • 1930–1931 — Francesco "Frankie Cheech" Scalise — demoted after murder of Sal Maranzano.
  • 1931–1951 — Vincent "Vince" Mangano — disappeared in April 1951, allegedly killed on orders of underboss Albert Anastasia.
  • 1951–1957 — Albert "the Lord High Executioner" Anastasia — murdered in October 1957 on orders of underboss Carlo Gambino.
  • 1957–1976 — Carlo "Don Carlo" Gambino — died of natural causes 1976.
    • Acting 1967–1976 — Paul "Big Paul" Castellano — acting on behalf of an ill Gambino, became official boss after his death.
  • 1976–1985 — Paul "Big Paul" Castellano — murdered in December 1985 on orders of capo John Gotti.
  • 1985–2002 — John "the Teflon Don" Gotti Sr. — imprisoned in 1992, died in 2002.
    • Acting 1992–1999 — John "Junior" Gotti Jr. — imprisoned in 1999.
    • Acting 1999–2002 — Peter "One-Eyed Pete" Gotti — promoted to official boss.
  • 2002–present — Peter "One-Eyed Pete" Gotti — imprisoned in 2002, serving life sentence.
    • Acting 2002–2005 — Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri
    • Acting 2005–2008 — Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo — convicted in 2008, projected release date is in 2020.
    • Acting 2011–2015 — Domenico "Italian Dom" Cefalù — head of the Sicilian faction, acting on behalf of Peter Gotti, stepped down in 2015
    • Acting 2015–2019 — Francesco "Frankie Boy" Cali — head of the Sicilian faction, murdered in March 13, 2019.
    • Acting 2019-present — Lorenzo Mannino

Genovese Crime Family - Little Italy, Greenwich Village, East Harlem, Pelham Bay, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut with satellite crew in Springfield, Massachusetts

  • c. 1898–1922 — Giuseppe "the Clutch Hand" Morello — imprisoned, stepped down in 1922 to become underboss to Joe Masseria
    • Acting 1910–1916 — Nicholas "Nick Morello" Terranova — murdered on September 7, 1916
    • Acting 1916–1920 — Vincenzo "Vincent the Tiger" Terranova — stepped down becoming underboss
  • 1922–1931 — Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria — murdered on April 15, 1931
  • 1931–1946 — Charles "Lucky" Luciano — imprisoned in 1936, deported to Italy in 1946
    • Acting 1936–1937 — Vito "Don Vitone" Genovese — fled to Italy in 1937 to avoid murder charge
    • Acting 1937–1946 — Frank "the Prime Minister" Costello — became official boss after Luciano's deportation
  • 1946–1957 — Frank "the Prime Minister" Costello — resigned in 1957 after assassination attempt by Genovese
  • 1957–1969 — Vito "Don Vitone" Genovese — imprisoned in 1959, died in prison in 1969
    • Acting 1959–1962 — Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo — disappeared in 1962
    • Acting 1962–1965 — Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli — became front boss
    • Acting 1965–1969 — Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo — became the official boss
  • 1969–1981 — Philip "Benny Squint" Lombardo — retired in 1981, died of natural causes in 1987
    • Front 1969–1972 — Thomas "Tommy Ryan" Eboli — murdered in 1972
    • Front 1972–1981 — Frank "Funzi" Tieri — indicted under RICO statutes and resigned, died in 1981
  • 1981–2005 — Vincent "Vinny the Chin" Gigante — imprisoned in 1997, died in prison on December 19, 2005
    • Front 1981–1986 — Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno — front boss, imprisoned in 1986
    • Acting 1990–1992 — Liborio "Barney" Bellomo — promoted to street boss
    • Acting 1997–1998 — Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo — suffered heart attack and resigned
    • Acting 1998–2005 — Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello — resigned when indicted in July 2005
  • 2005–present — Liborio "Barney" Bellomo
    • Acting 2005–2008 — Daniel "Danny the Lion" Leo — imprisoned 2008–2013
    • Acting 2010–2018 — Peter "Petey Red" DiChiara — died on March 2, 2018

Lucchese Crime Family - Northern New Jersey, East Harlem, Pelham Bay, Arthur Avenue, Upstate New York

  • 1922–1930 – Gaetano "Tommy" Reina — murdered on February 26, 1930
  • 1930 — Bonaventura "Joseph" Pinzolo — murdered on September 5, 1930
  • 1930–1951 — Tommaso "Tommy" Gagliano — retired in 1951, died on February 16, 1953
  • 1951–1967 — Gaetano "Tommy Three-Finger Brown" Lucchese — died on July 13, 1967
    • Acting 1966–1967 — Carmine "Mr. Gribbs" Tramunti — stepped down
    • Acting 1967 — Ettore "Eddie" Coco — stepped down
  • 1967–1973 — Carmine "Mr. Gribbs" Tramunti — imprisoned in October 1973
  • 1973–1987 — Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo — indicted on February 15, 1985, convicted on November 19, 1986 in the Mafia Commission Trial and sentenced on January 13, 1987 to 100 years in prison.
  • 1987–present — Victor "Vic the Terminator" Amuso — arrested in 1991, received a life sentence in January 1993
    • Acting 1986–1987 — Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso — promoted to underboss
    • Acting 1990–1991 — Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco — demoted, became a member of a ruling panel
    • Ruling Panel 1991–1993 – Anthony "Bowat" Baratta, Salvatore "Sal" Avellino, Frank "Big Frank" Lastorino, and Alphonse "Little Al" D'Arco (On September 21, 1991, D'Arco became an informant)
    • Acting 1993–1998 — Joseph "Little Joe" DeFede — imprisoned in 1998
    • Acting 1998–2000 — Steven "Wonderboy" Crea — imprisoned on September 6, 2000
    • Acting 2000–2003 — Louis "Louie Bagels" Daidone — imprisoned March 2003, received life sentence in January 2004
    • Acting 2009–2017 — Matthew "Matty" Madonna — indicted 2007 and 2009; imprisoned 2015-present; indicted 2017; demoted
    • Acting 2017-present — Michael "Big Mike" De Santis

    Northeastern United States Families 

DeCavalcante Crime Family - Northern New Jersey

  • c.1920–1955 — Stefano Badami (murdered)
  • 1955–1957 — Filippo "Phil" Amari (retired)
  • 1957–1964 — Nicholas "Nick" Delmore
    • Acting 1962–1964 — Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (became boss)
  • 1964–1982 — Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante (retired)
  • 1982–2015 — Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi (died of prostate cancer on August 3, 2015)
    • Acting 1990–1992 — John "Johnny Boy" D'Amato (murdered)
    • Acting 1992–1997 — Giacomo "Jake" Amari (died of stomach cancer)
    • Ruling Panel — 1997-1999 — Girolamo "Jimmy Dumps" Palermo, Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo and Charles "Big Ears" Majuri (members arrested)
    • Ruling Panel — 2000-2004 — Girolamo "Jimmy Dumps" Palermo, Stefano "Steve the Truck Driver" Vitabile and Giuseppe "Pino" Schifilliti
    • Acting 2005–2007 — Joseph "Joe the Old Man" Miranda (stepped down)
    • Acting 2007–2012 — Francesco "Frank" Guarraci
  • 2015–2016 — Francesco "Frank" Guarraci — died of cancer.
  • 2016-present — Charles "Big Ears" Majuri

Bruno/Scarfo Crime Family (The Philly Mob) - Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Trenton and South New Jersey

  • 1911-1931 — Salvatore Sabella — retired, deceased in 1962.
  • 1931-1936 — John "Nazzone" Avena — murdered on August 17, 1936.
  • 1936-1946 — Giuseppe "Joe Bruno" Dovi
  • 1946-1959 — Giuseppe "Joseph" Ida — deported in 1958, deceased sometime in the 1970s.
    • Acting 1958-1959 — Antonio "Mr. Miggs" Pollina — deposed by the Commission.
  • 1959-1980 — Angelo "The Gentle Don" Bruno — murdered on March 21, 1980.
  • 1980-1981 — Philip "The Chicken Man" Testa — murdered on March 15, 1981.
  • 1981-1991 — Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo — imprisoned for life, died in 2017.
    • Acting 1981-1984 — Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino
    • Acting 1987-1989 — Anthony "Tony Buck" Piccolo
  • 1991—1995 — Giovanni "John" Stanfa — imprisoned for life.
  • 1995–1998 — Ralph Natale — arrested in 1998, turned informant in 1999.
    • Acting 1995-1998 — Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino
  • 1998—present — Joey "Skinny Joey" Merlino — arrested in 1999, released in 2011.
    • Acting 1999—2011 — Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi
    • Acting 2011–present — Steven "Handsome Stevie" Mazzone

Patriarca Crime Family (The Office) - New England (split between Boston and Providence factions)

  • 1916-1924 — Gaspare Messina — stepped down, died in 1957 — Boston
  • 1924-1954 — Filippo "Phil" Buccola — united both families in 1932, retired, died in 1987 — Boston
  • 1954-1984 — Raymond L.S. "the Old Man" Patriarca, Sr. — imprisoned in 1970, died on July 11, 1984 — Providence
  • 1984-1991 — Raymond "Junior" Patriarca, Jr. — stepped down in 1991 — Providence
  • 1991 — Nicholas "Nicky" Bianco — imprisoned on December 28, 1991 and died on December 14, 1994 — Providence
  • 1991-1996 — Frank "Cadillac Frank" Salemme — jailed in 1995, turned government witness — Boston
    • Acting 1995—1996 — John "Jackie" Salemme — brother to Frank Salemme; jailed — Boston
  • 1996-2009 — Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio — stepped down, imprisoned — Providence
  • 2009–2017 — Peter "Chief Crazy Horse" Limone — died — Boston
    • Acting 2009-2012 — Anthony L. Di Nunzio — arrested on April 25, 2012 — Boston
    • Acting 2012-2015 — Antonio L. “Spucky” Spagnolo — arrested on October 2, 2014 — Boston
    • Acting 2015–2017 — Carmen "The Big Cheese" DiNunzio — Boston
  • 2017–present — Carmen "The Big Cheese" DiNunzio — Boston

Magaddino Crime Family (The Arm) - Western New York (Syracuse, Buffalo, Utica), Toronto

  • 1908–1912 — Angelo "Buffalo Bill" Palmeri — stepped down, becoming underboss.
  • 1912–1922 — Giuseppe "Don Pietro" DiCarlo Sr.
  • 1922–1974 — Stefano "The Undertaker" Magaddino — died of natural causes on July 19, 1974, at the age of 82.
    • Acting 1969–1970 — Salvatore "Sam" Pieri — leader of the Pieri-Frangiamore faction, imprisoned.
    • Acting 1970–1972 — Joseph Fino — leader of the Fino-Sansanese faction, imprisoned.
    • Acting 1972–1974 — Samuel "Sam the Farmer" Frangiamore — leader of the Pieri-Frangiamore faction.
  • 1974–1985 — Samuel "Sam the Farmer" Frangiamore — appointed by the Commission, retired in 1985 and died in 1999.
  • 1985–2006 — Joseph "Lead Pipe Joe" Todaro Sr. — became semi-retired in 1995, officially stepped down in 2006, and died in 2012. Todaro was the last officially recognized boss of the family.
  • 2006-present — Joseph "Big Joe" Todaro, Jr. — Became the boss when his father retired-according to FBI operative and former Buffalo LCN Associate/informant Ron Fino. It has been alleged by the FBI that Leonard Falzone took over as the acting boss when Joe Todaro, Sr. retired in 2006. However, Fino states that Falzone was acting as the "Front Boss" for the Todaros.
    • Acting 2017-present — Anthony Lupiania Todaro

LaRocca Crime Family - Allegheny County, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Ohio

  • c.1910s–1920 — Gregorio Conti — retired
  • 1920–1925 — Salvatore Calderone — retired
  • 1925–1929 — Stefano Monastero — murdered on August 6, 1929
  • 1929–1931 — Giuseppe "Yeast Baron" Siragusa — murdered on September 13, 1931
  • 1931–1932 — John Bazzano — found dead on August 8, 1932 in Red Hook, Brooklyn
  • 1932–1937 — Vincenzo Capizzi — retired to Italy
  • 1937–1956 — Frank Amato — stepped down, becoming underboss
  • 1956–1984 — John "Big John" LaRocca — died on December 3, 1984
    • Ruling Panel 1978–1980 — Michael Genovese, Gabriel Mannarino (died July 1980), and Joseph Pecora (imprisoned 1979)
    • Acting 1980–1984 — Michael Genovese — promoted to boss
  • 1985–2006 — Michael James Genovese — died on October 31, 2006
  • 2006–2008 — John Bazzano Jr. — died on July 28, 2008
  • 2008–present — Thomas "Sonny" Ciancutti

Bufalino Crime Family - Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro Area, NE Pennsylvania, Southern Tier of New York, NW New Jersey

  • 1900-1903 — Tommaso "the Ox" Petto—killed
  • 1903–1908 — Stefano LaTorre — stepped down
  • 1908–1933 — Santo Volpe — retired in 1933
  • 1933–1940 — Giacomo "John" Sciandra — murdered
  • 1940–1959 — Giuseppe "Joe the Barber" Barbara, Sr. — had a heart attack in 1957 and died in 1959
    • Acting 1956–1959 — Rosario Alberto "Russell" Bufalino — became boss
  • 1959–1994 — Rosario Alberto "Russell" Bufalino — imprisoned from 1978–1989; retired, he died on February 25, 1994
    • Acting 1975-1989 — Edward "Eddie The Conductor" Sciandra — imprisoned 1981-1982; he received help from Anthony Guarnieri and William D'Elia
    • Acting 1990–1994 — William "Big Billy" D'Elia — became boss
  • 1994–2008 — William "Big Billy" D'Elia — in 2006 he was indicted on money laundering, in 2008 he pleaded guilty and testified in front of a grand jury for leniency.

Rochester Crime Family - Rochester Metropolitan Area

  • unknown–1958 — Constenze "Stanley" Valenti – imprisoned
  • 1958–1964 — Jake Russo – murdered
  • 1964–1972 — Frank Valenti – retired, died on September 20, 2008
  • 1972–1993 — Samuel "Red" Russotti – imprisoned in 1984; died in 1993
    • Acting 1977–1978 — Thomas Didio – murdered July 1978 during the "A & B Wars"
    • Acting 1977–1978 — Salvatore "Sammy G" Gingello – murdered April 23, 1978 during the "A & B Wars"
    • Acting 1988 — Angelo Amico – arrested in 1988; released in 1993
    • Acting 1988 — Loren Piccarreto – son of Rene Piccarreto; arrested 1988; released in 1994
  • 1993-present — unknown

    Midwestern United States Crime Families 

Chicago Outfit - Chicago Metropolitan Area, Las Vegas, Rockford, Springfield

  • 1910-1920 — Giacomo "Big Jim" Colosimo — murdered in 1920.
  • 1920-1925 — John "Papa Johnny" Torrio — stepped down in 1925.
  • 1925-1931 — Alphonse "Scarface Al" Capone — imprisoned in 1931, deceased in 1947.
  • 1931-1943 — Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti — committed suicide in 1943.
  • 1943-1947 — Paul "The Waiter" Ricca — stepped down in 1947.
  • 1947-1957 — Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo — stepped down in 1957
  • 1957-1966 — Salvatore "Mooney Sam" Giancana — fled to Mexico in 1966, murdered in 1975.
  • 1966-1967 — Samuel "Teets" Battaglia — imprisoned in 1967, deceased in 1973.
  • 1967-1970 — John Phillip "Jackie the Lackey" Cerone — imprisoned in 1970, deceased in 1996.
  • 1970-1971 — Felix "Milwaukee Phil" Alderisio — imprisoned in 1967-1969, deceased in 1971.
  • 1971-1986 — Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa — imprisoned in 1986, deceased in 1997.
  • 1986-1992 — Samuel "Black Sam" Carlisi — imprisoned in 1992, deceased in 1997.
  • 1992-2018 — John "No Nose" DiFronzo — semi-retired since 2014, died in 2018.
    • Acting 2014-2018 — Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis
  • 2018-present — Salvatore "Solly D" DeLaurentis

Cleveland Crime Family (The Mayfield Road Mob) - Greater Cleveland

  • 1920–1927 — Joseph "Big Joe" Lonardo — murdered in 1927.
  • 1927–1929 — Salvatore "Black Sam" Todaro — murdered in 1929.
  • 1929–1930 — Joseph "Big Joe" Porrello — murdered in 1930.
  • 1930–1935 — Frank "Ciccio" Milano — fled in Mexico in 1935, deceased in 1970.
  • 1935–1945 – Alfred "Al the Owl" Polizzi — arrested in 1944, retired in Florida in 1945, deceased in 1975.
    • Acting 1944–1945 — John "Johnny" Scalish
  • 1945–1976 — John "Johnny" Scalish
  • 1976–1985 — James "Jack White" Licavoli — imprisoned in 1981 and deceased in 1985.
    • Acting 1981–1983 — Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo — turned informant in October 1983, deceased in 2006.
    • Acting 1983–1985 — John "Peanuts" Tronolone
  • 1985–1991 — John "Peanuts" Tronolone
  • 1991–1993 — Anthony "Tony Lib" Liberatore — imprisoned in 1993, deceased in 1998.
  • 1993–2005 — Joseph "Joe Loose" Lacobacci — semi-retired in 2005, living in Pennsylvania.
  • 2005–present — Russell "R.J." Papalardo

Zerilli Crime Family (Detroit Partnership/Combination) - Greater Detroit, Windsor, Ontario and Toledo, Ohio

  • 1908-1913 — Vito Adamo — murdered in 1913.
  • 1913-1919 — Anthony Gianolla — murdered in 1919.
  • 1919 — Salvatore Gianolla — murdered in 1919.
  • 1919-1921 — Giovanni Vitale — murdered in 1921.
  • 1921-1930 — Salvatore "Singing Sam" Catalanotte — died in February 1930
  • 1930 — Gaspar "The Peacemaker" Milazzo — murdered on May 31, 1930.
  • 1930-1931 — Cesare Lamare — murdered in February 1931.
  • 1931-1936 — William "Black Bill" Tocco — stepped down in March 1936, becoming underboss.
  • 1936-1977 — Joseph "The Old Man" Zerilli
    • Acting 1964-1974 — Anthony "Tony Z." Zerilli — imprisoned in 1974.
    • Acting 1977-1979 — Giacomo "Jack" Tocco
  • 1977-1979 — Giovanni "Papa John" Priziola
  • 1979–2014 — Giacomo "Jack" Tocco — semi-retired in 2014. Died July 14, 2014.
  • 2014–present — Jack "Jackie the Kid" Giacalone

Kansas City Crime Family - Kansas City Metro Area, Nebraska

  • 1912-1931 — Joseph "Joe Church" DiGiovanni
  • 1931-1934 — John "Brother John" Lazia — murdered in 1934.
  • 1934-1939 — Charles "Charlie the Wop" Carollo — convicted in 1939.
  • 1939-1950 — Charles Binaggio — murdered
  • 1950-1953 — Anthony Gizzo
  • 1953-1983 — Nicholas Civella — convicted in 1977 and 1980, deceased in 1983.
    • Acting 1977-1979 — Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna — imprisoned in 1979.
    • Acting 1979-1983 — Carl "Corky" Civella
  • 1983-1984 — Carl "Corky" Civella — convicted in 1984.
  • 1984-1995 — William "Willie the Rat" Cammisano
  • 1995-2006 — Anthony "Tony Ripe" Civella — arrested in 1992.
    • Acting 1992-1997 — John "Johnny Joe" Sciortino
  • 2006–present — John "Johnny Joe" Sciortino

Milwaukee Crime Family - Milwaukee, Madison

  • 1918-1921 — Vito Guardalabene — died on February 6, 1921 from natural causes
  • 1921-1927 — Peter Guardalabene — the son of Vito Guardalabene was boss until 1927
  • 1927 — Joseph Amato — died of natural causes on March 28, 1927
  • 1927-1949 — Joseph Vallone — the Commission decided that the Milwaukee family would answer to and remain under the Chicago Outfit's power. Vallone retired in 1949 and died on March 18, 1952 from natural causes
  • 1949-1952 — Salvatore "Sam" Ferrara — in 1952, he was voted out by his family and members of the Chicago Outfit forced him to step down.
  • 1952-1961 — John Alioto — trained his son-in-law Frank Balistrieri.
  • 1961-1993 — Frank "Mr. Big" Balistrieri — imprisoned March 1967-June 1971. In the late 1970s, with his two sons Joseph and John, he worked with Bonanno crime family capo Michael Sabella. He was imprisoned from 1983-1991 for his involvement in a Las Vegas skim racket. He died of natural causes on February 7, 1993.
    • Acting 1967-1971 — Joseph "Joey Bal" Balistrieri Sr. — Frank's son and capo, became underboss in 1993.
    • Acting 1983-1993 — Peter "Pete Bal" Balistrieri — Frank Balistrieri's brother and underboss
  • 1993-1997 — Peter "Pete Bal" Balistrieri — he died of natural causes on August 17, 1997
  • 1997–2014 — Joseph "Joe Camel" Caminiti — he was The Consigliere to Frank Balistrieri. Died January 2014
  • 2014-present — Peter "Pitch" Picciurro

St. Louis Crime Family - St. Louis Metro Area

  • 1912-1923 — Dominick Giambrone — fled; murdered, 1934
  • 1923-1927 — Vito Giannola
  • 1927-1937 — Frank Agrusa — Born in Cinisi, Sicily
  • 1937-1943 — Thomas Buffa
  • 1943-1950 — Pasquale Miceli
  • 1950 — Vincent Chiapetta
  • 1950-1960 — Anthony "Tony Lap" Lopiparo — was the son of a St. Louis mobster, he died in 1960.
  • 1960-1980 — Anthony "Tony G." Giordano — as boss he declared independence from the Kansas City family. Imprisoned 1975-1977, he died on August 29, 1980 from cancer
    • Acting 1975-1977 — Vincenzo "Jimmy" Giammanco — was Giordano's nephew
  • 1980-1982 — John "Johnny V." Vitale. — he died on June 5, 1982
  • 1982-1997 — Matthew "Mike" Trupiano, Jr. — was Giordano's nephew from Detroit; he died in 1997
  • 1997–2014 — Anthony "Nino" Parrino — died November 3, 2014.
  • 2014-present — unknown

    Southern United States Crime Families 

Trafficante Crime Family (Tampa Bay Mob) - Tampa Bay Area

  • 1920–1940 — Ignacio Antinori — murdered October 24, 1940.
  • 1940–1954 — Santo Trafficante, Sr. — died in August 1954 of a heart attack.
    • Acting 1946–1948 — Salvatore "Red" Italiano — Ignazio's nephew, fled in Mexico.
    • Acting 1948–1950 — James "Head of the Elks" Lumia — murdered on June 5, 1950.
  • 1954–1987 — Santo Trafficante, Jr. — died on March 17, 1987.
  • 1987–present — Vincent LoScalzo — semi-retired since 2015.

New Orleans Crime Family (The Combine) - New Orleans Metropolitan Area, Baton Rouge

  • c. 1865–1869 — Raffaele Agnello — murdered on April 1, 1869
  • 1869–1872 — Joseph Agnello — murdered July 1872
  • 1872–1879 — Joseph P. Macheca (1842–1891)
  • 1879–1881 — Giuseppe "Vincenzo Randazo" Esposito — imprisoned, then deported
  • 1881–1891 — Joseph P. Macheca — murdered on March 14, 1891 in a famous lynching
  • 1891–1922 — Charles Matranga — retired, died on October 28, 1943
  • 1922–1947 — Sylvestro "Silver Dollar Sam" Corollo — deported
  • 1947–1990 — Carlos "Little Man" Marcello — imprisoned 1983–1991
    • Acting 1983–1990 — Joseph Marcello Jr.
  • 1990-2007 — Anthony Carollo — died
  • 2007-present — unknown

Dallas Crime Family - Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex

  • 1914-1930 — Carlo Piranio
  • 1930-1956 — Joseph Piranio
  • 1956-1970 — Joseph Civello — died in January 1970
  • 1970-1990 — Joseph Campisi — died in 1990 after having a heart attack

    Western United States Crime Families 

Los Angeles Crime Family (Mickey Mouse Mafia) - Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Las Vegas

  • 1905–1931 — Joseph "Iron Man" Ardizzone (murdered)
  • 1931–1956 — Ignazio "Jack" Dragna
  • 1956–1967 — Frank De Simone
  • 1967–1974 — Nicolo "Old Man Nick" Licata
  • 1974–1984 — Dominic "Jimmy" Brooklier
  • 1984-2012 — Peter "Pete" Milano
  • 2012-present — unknown

San Jose Crime Family - San Jose, Santa Clara County

  • 1940–1959 — Onofrio Sciortino
  • 1959-1978 — Joseph Cerrito — died in 1978 from natural causes
  • 1978-1983 — Angelo Marino
  • 1983-2009 — Emmanuel J. Figlia

San Francisco Crime Family - San Francisco Bay Area

  • 1932–1937 — Francesco Lanza
  • 1937–1953 — Tony Lima
  • 1953–1961 — Michael Abati
  • 1961–2006 — James "Jimmy the Hat" Lanza

Denver Crime Family - Pueblo and Denver, Colorado

  • 1923–1933 — Joe "Little Caesar" Roma — murdered in 1933
  • 1928–1931 — Pete Carlino
  • 1933–1950 — Charles Blanda
  • 1950–1969 — Vincenzo Colletti
  • 1969–1975 — Joseph "Scotty" Spinuzzi
  • 1975–1992 — Eugene "Checkers" Smaldone — died in March 1992 of a heart attack
  • 1992–2006 — Clarence "Chauncey" Smaldone — died of natural causes

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