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La Cosa Nostra
Transcript of La Cosa Nostra
The American Mafia was modeled after the Sicilian Mafia from which many of the mafia traditions and “sacred rules” were adopted. 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. During the late 1980s a great influx of Italians immigrated to the United States, many of whom jobless laborers and farmers. Eventually, just as the Sicilian Mafia had done, the American-Italians formed powerful families that became involved in organized crime. The American Mafia of early 1900s included the Black Hand gangs (1900); the Five Points Gang (1910s-‘20s) in New York City; Al Capone’s Syndicate (1920s) in Chicago. Warfare erupted between the gangs which resulted in their collapse, and the birth of La Cosa Nostra. Seven families made up La Cosa Nostra; the Genovese and the Gambino being the two major ones.
Family, Conduct, Popularity
Outside the Law
Portrayal in Media Entertainment
Government of Mafia
The American Mafia became dominant around the prohibition era in 1936. They organized and lead major liquor smuggling operations. Charles Luciano was the first major head of the American Mafia; he collaborated with other mobsters in New York and Chicago and overseas in Italy. The Mafia was also involved in prostitution, gambling, drug trafficking, money laundering, construction, and labor unions. It ran brothels like a business keeping many of the women there against their will. The richer the Mafia became the more powerful it got. One of its strategies to ensure survival and avoid imprisonment was the bribery of the police and juries. They also operated underground, “off the radar”, in the back rooms of shops to stay hidden from the authorities. To deal with threats they sent soldiers to assassinate gangsters or associates (of other gangs) for betrayal. Godfathers never confessed existence of mafia. (all pleaded the fifth amendment).
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. Boss's authority is needed to resolve disputes and keep everyone in line.
Underboss is the second in command power he wields can vary. Underbosses resolve disputes without involving the boss. Some are groomed to replace the boss if he is old or in danger of going to jail.
A capo acts like a lieutenant, leading his own section of the family. He has specific activities that he operates. The capo's territory may be defined geographically The key to being a successful capo is making money.
soldier is the lowest rank. They're part of the family, but they hold little power and make little money
Associates are not members of the Mafia, but they work with Mafia soldiers and capos on various criminal enterprises
The consigliere is not supposed to be part of the family's hierarchy. He is supposed to act as an advisor and make impartial decisions based on fairness .
Methods used to make money;
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.
The Commission, founded by Lucky Luciano, was the supreme court of the mafia; it set disputes and divided territory, and made La Cosa Nostra organized. The commission established the existence of the mob, and gave it an identity. It was made up of seven families; five in New York and two in Chicago. Each family had one vote to use for coming to an agreement about any dispute (instead the old fashioned way if you know what I mean). After its discovery, the FBI made it illegal to be a member of the commission.
Movies Take pride in making of these wide fantasies of how the mafia works and how its a dangerous thrill to be on, especially with video games. Lots of exaggeration was induced through many of these movies and games.
The Commission Case
Families charged with labor union rackets, murder for hire, extortion etc.
Witnesses testified, taped evidence provided confessions, Commission exposed, officially confirming existence of Mafia
heads of three families sentenced to 100 years in prison.
Afterwards- new generation, me generation, more into themselves, completely useless
The Mafia is its own worst enemy.
Two Codes All "Made Men" Must Stand By
If broken or opposed life is taken
Capos - Try to gain power and influence
This causes conflict with regional mafiosa
Soldiers - In the end the lowest rank are forced and
Some have no idea and may do some-
Anticipating members have to be introduced
by a third party and have to undergo a ceremony of
allegiance. The member would enter a room blindfolded where the senior members of the mafia family, including the boss, wait wearing masks. The boss would exchange some words with the soon to be member and everyone would take off their masks. The ceremony continues with the pricking of the finger and burning of a picture of a saint to symbolize commitment to the mafia. The boss would say "if you betray the Cosa Nostra, your body will burn like the picture."
Apalachin Summit - approx 60-70 mobsters from around the country met to discuss racketeering, money laundering, and division of territories.
Proof of a national network of organized crime called the Mafia.
FBI could then pursue further investigation with more interest.
TOP hoodlum program used to gather information about the mafia families and their areas of operation.
63 mobsters were arrested and later questioned and released.
Omerta-code of silence, rooted in the Sicilian Mafia
no contact with with police, press
no revealing secrets to anyone outside of the family
no testifying against a fellow member in court
made it difficult for police to find and catch them
breaking Omerta was punishable by death
Tackle strategies included: Deportation orders, bugs and wires, spying, undercover mobsters
The FBI couldn't figure who the mobsters were; couldn't associate them with a gang hierarchy; had trouble tackling them; mafia was too secretive.
The police had no resources to track the mafia's racketeering movement efficiently.
Thomas Dewy investigated mob
Witnessed Dutch Schultz intimidating voters during presidential election
Charged with tax evasion.
Dewy wired brothels, rounded 100 women, prostitutes confessed, arrested Lucky Luciano, guilty as racketeer, dewy persuaded anti-racketeerling bill.
Lucky convicted with compulsory prostitution for 30-50 years in prison, proved cash flow and was convicted with a group of crimes (instead of several individually)
The police used bugs to hear confessions from Al Capone and they worked. Al Capone was convicted with tax evasion. Sentenced to 11 years in prison
Boss Carlo Gambino was never prosecuted, died in bed. He literally beat the government (a rare success for boss to die peacefully instead of by assassination)
Boss Marcelo-charged with racketeering and sentenced to 7 years in prison
Boss Tony Accardo- honored and admired, earned respect from the law, was left alone, racketeering charge, was never convicted
Three Bosses- Fat Tony, Tony Ducks, and Junior Persico; sentenced to 100 years in prison; marked end of traditional mafia; kaboom!
Families in La Cosa Nostra often married within the family (even on first cousin bases). Only Italians could join the Mafia. It was honor to be in the family; members called "men of honor."
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act-
led to the arrest of many mobsters and corrupt politicians
Permitted the bundling of many crimes (fraud, bribery, drug smuggling/distribution etc.)
Made it much easier to convict criminals for longer sentencing
AL "Scarface" Capone
John "Drapper Don" Gotti
John Edgar Hoover
Salvatore "Sammy The Bull" Gravano
Was the Governor of New York 1943–1954.
Brought down lucky Luciano's racketeering business
Deported Lucky Luciano back to Italy
Boss of Chicago Outfit
Took advantage of the opportunity to make money smuggling illegal alcohol into the city.
Capone was convicted on federal charges of tax evasion in 1931.
Boss of the Gambino Family
Unexpectedly seized control of the Commission (the Commission is the governing body of the American Mafia).
Gambino was also convicted on tax evasion but had his sentence reduced.
2nd boss of the Gambino Family
Gotti quickly rose the ladder becoming one of the family's biggest earners.
Was given the name "The Dapper Don" for his expensive clothes and personality
First Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency
Former underboss of the Gambino family
Salvatore Gravano played a key role in planning and executing Castellano's murder
Man who helped bring down John Gotti, the family's boss
Gravano participated in the conspiracy to murder Gambino boss Paul Castellano
Gotti organized the murder of Castellano in December 1985 and took over the family
Today the Mafia's activities are contained to the Northeast United States and Chicago.
As many gangs are still active , so is the mafia
but the mafia is more under the scenes than many other gangs in comparison