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LA COSA NOSTRA

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Meredith Creighton

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of LA COSA NOSTRA

LA COSA NOSTRA
Background
The Sicilian Mafia traces its roots back to the late eighteenth century during the fruit export boom in Palermo. By the mid-1800s the mafia unified to protect the Sicilian peasants against their enemies.
It is a loose network of criminal groups that have similar organizational structures and use protection racketeering.
The mafia's actions often led to violent murders, but few members were ever convicted because the mafia kept friends in all levels of the government. The mafia maintains its position by never aligning itself to specific political agendas, but rather to whichever group holds the most power.
Many attribute the mafia's longevity to the Cosa Nostra's familial structure and their strict code of silence, known as omerta.
In the 1920s, the balance of power shifted from Sicily to the United States, in part because of the crackdown on crime during Mussolini's reign and in part because of the prohibition-era.
During the late 1920s a plethora of Italians immigrated to the United States, and eventually, the American-Italians formed powerful families that became involved in organized crime.
Seven families made up La Cosa Nostra; the Genovese and the Gambino being the two major ones.
Structure/ Development
The mafia was strongly based on familial ties and it was considered a great honor to be a member because it represented protection of the family, and dissent from authority.
Because of a long history of oppression and domination in Italy, the Sicilians could only trust and rely on family resulting in groups that molded into the Sicilian Mafia.
Each group, known as a “family”, “clan”, or “cosca” claims power over a territory where it operates its rackets.
The leader of each family is known as the boss. All major decisions are made by the boss, and money made by the family flows to him.
Underboss is the second in command power he wields can vary.
A capo acts like a lieutenant, leading his own section of the family. He has specific activities that he operates.
Soldier is the lowest rank. They're part of the family, but they hold little power and make little money. Cosca policies are dominant affairs of men, and women are excluded.
How They Came to America
- Castellammare War
- mostly Sicilian with some representation from Neapolitan, Calabrian, and few other Italian groups
- reached American through waves of Italian immigration
- first appeared on Lower East side of New York City
- most prevalent throughout history in New York City, but still apparent in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detriot, and at least 22 other cities
- retain “family” structure
- declining in influence, but still largest organized crime group in America

The Cosa Nostra Today
In the past decade organized crime has changed drastically.
In this era of globalization, Cosa Nostra, and mafias in general ha become less prominent. According to studies la cosa nostra has declined in membership in the United States as well as in Italy.

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Hijack trucks and unload entire shipments stolen goods.
Pay off truck drivers or dock workers, who will "misplace" crates and shipments that later end up in Mafia hands.
Extortion, forcing people to give up their money by threatening them in some way.
Casinos were controlled but not owned and acted as successful fronts for money laundering
Loan sharking mafia offered loans at extremely high interest rates.
Methods to make money
Al "Scarface" Capone
- Boss of Chicago Outfit
Carlo Cambino
-Boss of Gambino Family
Since 1995 the mafia
in Sicily has gone through a long restructuring process. They do not participate more in international criminal markets, and focus mostly on extortion and infiltration.
Legislation against organized crime has become extremely important in reducing mafias presence in Sicily. Also, confiscation of criminal assets has been an important policy while reducing mafia activity.
Mafias have been more involved in investing in "legitimate business" rather than that criminal markets because it is more secure for this organization.They now involved in illegal gambling, and waste disposal . "
Criminals are now investing on
business, making it possible for authorities to detect them and confiscate their assets.
Mafias are even smarted, they are now investing in stock markets since it is hard for authories to keep control of who is buying the stocks.
Even though cosa nostra is not much involved with drug crimes, they are still being responsible for great amounts of extortion, especially to business in Italy. Since the decline of cosa nostra precense in the US in 1990's, other mafias have bben able to get in the market. As of right now, cosa nostra main crimes involve extortion, and infiltration in legitimate economy.
integration in American society
- well integrated: “as inevitable as increased taxes” (Jacobs)
- apparent in both politics and industry
- limited resistance from law enforcement: threats and bribery
- American fascination with Mafia Culture, ex: Godfather

- especially large presence in New York
- politically involved in machines- Tammany Hall
- 5 families: Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno, Colombo
- followed family structure: boss > underboss

New York
Vito Cascio Ferro (1862-1943), first "True Godfather" of the Cosa Nostra
Sources:
Dickie, John. Cosa Nostra A History of the Sicilian Mafia. London, England: Hodder & Stoughton, 2004. Print.
Jacobs, James. Busting the Mob: The United States v. Cosa Nostra . New York : New York University Press , 1994. Web. <http://books.google.com/books?id=x7KuxMQrmF4C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0
Jacobs, James. Gotham Unbound. New York : New York University Press , 1999. Web. <http://books.google.com/books?id=q6_YXR-DmRgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=gotham
Jacobs, James B., and Lauryn P. Gouldin. "Cosa Nostra: The Final Chapter?" Crime and Justice. Vol. 25. N.p.: University of Chicago, 1999. 129-89. JSTOR. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147609>.
"Mafia, The." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 550-54. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. <http://go.galegroup.com>.
Picozzi, Massimo. Cosa Nostra an Illustrated History of the Mafia. New York, NY: Mondadori Electa S.p.A., 2010. Print.
Seigel, Dina. Traditional organized crime in the modern world : responses to socioeconomic change. New York: Springer, 2012.
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