Mafia is a criminal organization which operates in illegal activities such as gambling, extortion, corruption, kidnapping, murders, drug-trafficking and prostitution. It is largely feared in the United States of America as it has a wide presence.
The Free Dictionary defines Mafia as “A secret criminal organization operating mainly illegal activities such as gambling, drug-dealing, protection, and prosecution.” Mafia is also defined as “Any of various similar criminal organizations, especially when dominated by members of the same nationality.”
In reality Mafia cannot be described as an organization for it has no head who oversees the activities of the members from a central point, according to Howstuffswork. “Instead, the word Mafia is an umbrella term that refers to any of several groups of gangsters who can trace their roots to Italy or Sicily.”
Therefore, Mafia does not consist of one group or gang but several. Each group is known as a family. Most of the members of Mafia families are blood-related though a person can join a Mafia family by taking an oath. As is with other cases of criminal groups, a Mafia family has a hierarchy. A person can rise in ranks to the head of the family. The higher-ranking members make decisions that are followed or carried out by the other members in the family.
A Mafia family can consist of fewer than 10 or more than 100 members.
Mafia or what is commonly known as Italian Mafia originated from Italy. It was during the 1900s when top crime figures entered the U.S.A illegally. They established American Mafia just like Italian Mafia in Italy. The American Mafia is known as La Cosa Nostra. These mafia families in United States have an international presence – members and affiliates – as far as Canada, South America and Australia.
According to the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), the major threats posed to the American society by Mafia are drug-trafficking and money laundering. “These groups don’t limit themselves to drug running, though. They’re also involved in illegal gambling, political corruption, extortion, kidnapping, fraud, counterfeiting, infiltration of legitimate business, murders, bombings, and weapons trafficking. Industry experts in Italy estimate that their worldwide criminal activity is worth more than $100 billion annually.”
The most notorious Mafia families in the United States are: Genovese, Gambrino, Lucchese, Bonanno and Colombo. All of them have their large presence or operate mainly in New York Jersey.
The Genovese crime family primarily operates in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx and New York Jersey. It has about 300 members and associates. The current boss or leader of this Mafia family is unknown. According to Askmen, this group is nicknamed ‘The Ivy League’ of organized crime. “…The Genovese, “notes Askmen “have unparalled success in the underworld. Strong leadership has enabled them to remain at the top of the five families since the 1930s.”
The Gambrino is another crime family which operates mainly in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New York Jersey. It has about 200 members and associates.
The third crime family is Lucchese. As is with the above two Mafia families, Lucchese also operates mainly at Brooklyn, New York Jersey, Bronx and Brooklyn. It has about 150 members and associates.
Bonanno, another crime family has its central illegal activities in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, New York Jersey and Florida. It has a total of 200 members and associates.
Perhaps the most feared and leading Mafia family in U.S.A is Colombo. It has its main operations in Brooklyn, Bronx, New York Jersey and Florida. It has a total of 150 members and associates. However, this does not seem to be the case as the boss of this family, John Gotti, was arrested including other top figures. This has seen the Genovese family climbing to the top ladder as the most powerful Mafia family than Colombo according to the FBI.
The current boss of Colombo family is Thomas Gioeli. The group was originally known as Profaci after the name of the boss of this family, Joe Profaci. He led the family from 1928 to 1962 but was hated by his men in the way he ruled – harsh with a tight fist. When he died, Joe Colombo took the lead and the family was changed to Colombo.
The other three families apart from Genovese and Colombo, “… the Bonnanos, the Colombos and the Lucchese – have also been weakened,” BBC states. It further notes, “According to the New York Daily News, the Luccheses and the Gambinos have suffered from uncertain leadership.
The Colombos are so divided and faction-ridden that the other families no longer recognize them, the Daily News says.”
As the authorities continue to crack down on these illegal groups especially targeting the bosses of these Mafia families, there is hope Mafia will be eradicated in America. Is it a wishful thinking or the truth? It only remains to be seen.