American Italian Mafia History Essay Example
A classic Mafia image, inspired by cinema, features a solid and serious man in a perfectly fitting business suit, a hat that casts a shadow on the stern face, and a black coat casually thrown over the shoulders. However, mobsters were not always looking like that. The movies usually demonstrate a golden time of mafia that was during the 30 – 60s of the last century. Mafia is among of the most influential and powerful criminal organizations with a clear hierarchical structure, perfect obedience, and discipline (Larke-Walsh, 2010). The organization has existed according to almost military laws, any violation of which could cost the offender his life. It allowed the mafia to exist successfully in many countries of the world for so long. Mafia was founded by the thoroughbred Italians. Mafia itself has originated in Italy, but the exact date of its occurrence is not known. At the latest, it already operated in the early 19th century, in times when all power in Italy was concentrated in the hands of rich landowners and the elite of society. They did not care about the fate of the poor and, moreover, in every way, spread their rot. The first mafia was created by the poor people who had nothing to lose. Initially, their goal was just to survive and feed themselves and their families. The mentality of the Italian nation played an important role as the mobsters had hypertrophied sense of honor and justice, as well as an explosive temper (Balboni, 2006).
Mafia in the United States
Mafia was created in the United States by emigrants, as representatives of different nationalities that moved from other countries brought their cultures with them. A small number of Italians had lived in the United States almost from the very beginning, but the Italian mass emigration occurred in the 1880s. Emigration from Italy began to weaken only after the 50s of the 20th century; consequently, it is easy to understand that quite a lot of the Italians had put down roots in America (Sifakis, 2005). Currently, there are 15 – 20 million people with full or partial Italian descent in the United States.I It makes about 7% of the total U.S. populations (Balboni, 2006) For comparison, Italy itself is home to about 60 million people. In those times, many Italian traditions weakened, and Italian mafia emigrated from the country. Representatives of the Camorra, Cosa Nostra, Ndrangheta, and other criminal families in America were looking for salvation from the laws of the country, or simply a better life (Dickie, 2004). Many Italians have already joined the organization in the United States. First mafia engaged in usury; they lent money at interest, racketeered shop owners and public institutions that were forced to pay rent for protection, followed by kidnapping for ransom and robberies. Enterprising and fearless Italians engaged in all areas of business, trade, and market spheres that they were only able to reach, often becoming business owners or real estate players. Among other things, they were doing frauds and scams of different levels, organized illegal underground casinos and betting, taking bets from all, including the unemployed and other questionable characters. The main advantage of such clandestine betting was that, after winning, people did not have to pay taxes to the state (Sifakis, 2005).
Nevertheless, the main mafia heyday is considered the times of Prohibition in the United States. Already since the late 19th century, the United States began to restrict gradually the production and sale of alcohol, and attempted to ban the alcohol turnover in some states completely. Such amendments to the law were introduced for reducing the number of murders and robberies associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Consequently, in 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibited alcohol throughout the United States. The adoption of this law, however, produced a completely different effect: the country underwent total corruption and illegal business, huge sums were hidden from the public treasury, and any breach of the Prohibition in some states and cities reached an almost absolute value. In figures, infringement of the law in New York reached 95% (Balboni, 2006). In such a way, 95% of the population of the city violated the dry law. Indeed, it was morsel kindle soil for any criminal group. Many criminal communities, including the Mafia were engaged in mass delivery and sale of illegal alcohol, much of which was imported from Canada, including the famous Canadian whiskey of the Prohibition times(Raab, 2013). There were also underground production plants and potions on the territory of the United States. In the powerful struggle, the American mafia of Italian origin was the most powerful organization that managed to discharge or eliminate almost all competitors (Sifakis, 2005). The Amendment made famous the name of the gangster Alphonse Capone and many other well-known figures of the underworld. Sometimes, there were real paramilitary clashes between different criminal groups, attacks on caravans with whiskey, hijacking of trucks with alcohol and classic dispute. It was a gold mine for mafia during the 20 – 30s (Balboni, 2006). The well–established supply channels provided huge profits.
Moreover, as trade was not taxed, the dominant families in the mafia underworld of the U.S. made an almost complete monopoly in the illegal alcohol industry. Mafia has raised above the rest criminal organizations not only because of their numbers, but due to strict regulations and clear hierarchical structure. The boss was in charge of the criminal family. This person was also usually called Don or Godfather. Boss had an absolute authority over all members of the group; in fact, he was a monarch in his organization. As practice shows, the bosses were very old people. It is logical, as the older a person is, the greater experience he has. If someone has managed to survive until the age of honor, it indicates the presence of a great mind. The boss had a personal advisor who was very close to the Don of the mafia and people in the organization. Such people did not have their team, unlike the mafia captains and soldiers, but had more authority in the family. They were respected and honored no less than the boss and the boss himself instructed his close job counselor, let him in on all details of the case and could rely on him in making important decisions. Therefore, no one enjoyed the boss’s confidence except a personal advisor. The next level of the hierarchy after the boss was occupied by captains or capos. There were not many captains in the family, just few people. They were subordinate generals, executed orders, and accounted directly to the boss. Each squad consisted of capo and mafia soldiers. Usually each captain had about ten soldiers in submission; they did not directly interact with the boss but were guided by their captain. Boss, with rare exceptions, did not contact the soldiers and other lower levels. Such an organization did not need the clan status for top management, and excluded the possibility of the law enforcement agencies penetration and participation in the street crimes, which were usually organized by other mafia soldiers. Later on, with the same purpose of creating a protective layer between the boss and his subordinates, a new post of a street boss was introduces. He was the link between the mafia top – the boss and his advisor, and the next level – captains and their subordinates (Dickie, 2004).
The family favorites were the elite of the criminal world. Becoming a common soldier is considered an honorable achievement in the criminal world. According to one of the unspoken mafia traditions, every person entering the family had to be introduced by a member of the organization. After joining the clan, people acquired the status of untouchables among other gangsters. Nevertheless, the organizational structure did not end on the soldiers as each of them had his own team of accomplices. It included people from outside the organization, but who served its interests (Balboni, 2006). Upon successful cooperation, an associate could be admitted to the clan when there was a job for him. This promotion required compliance with an important condition – a candidate had to be a full-blooded Italian. By the way, accomplices working for the mafia also had a status. Consequently, under some circumstances and in certain issues, they could refer to their employers.
In the New York City, since the 30s of the 20th century up to the present day, all the criminal activity has been carried out by five major families: Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo, and Bonanno. They were named after the ruling bosses whose names became public in 1959, when police arrested Joe Valachi the most famous mafia informant. It is interesting that he managed to survive until 1971 and died of his natural death despite the fact that the Genovese Family offered a reward for his head (Varese, 2013).
The Genovese Family
The founders of the family were the conspirator Lucky Luciano and Joe Masseria. The family received the nickname The Ivy League of the Mafia or The Rolls Royce of the Mafia. The man who gave his family this name was Vito Genovese, who became the boss in 1957. Vito considered himself the most powerful boss in New York, but was easily put out of by the Gambino Family. After 2 years in power, he was sentenced to 15 years for drug trafficking and died in prison in 1969. Today’s boss Daniel Leo from Genovese clan had ruled the family from the prison for several years as his term expired in January 2011. The Genovese Family became the prototype of the Corleone Family from the famous movie The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola (Larke-Walsh, 2010). Family activity included racketeering, crimes, money laundering, loan sharking, murder, prostitution, and drug trafficking. In the period from Joseph Masseria to Vincent Gigante, the Genovese Family has been considered the most powerful family of Cosa Nostra in the last hundred years. In the 1920s, Masseria was recognized by the leaders of the Italian-American groups as an arbitrator to resolve disputes and the approve important decisions taken (Varese, 2013).
In the early 1920s, Masseria sent one of his soldiers to Chicago to help Johnny Torrio, a local mobster, to take control of the city. However, Masseria had no good intentions. Joe Masseria sent Al Capone to Chicago, with the far-reaching plans. His help to young Don Torrio allowed him to become the King of Chicago without any conflicts and problems. The reasons of why Masseria let Al Capone rule such a big city were clear as it was better to have his own boss than the boss of a friend in the city. Al Capone was a protégé of Joe Masseria. When Al Capone had taken the place of Torrio, he faced a conflict with the Family of Joseph Ayele. Masseria protected Al Capone, refusing to support the Family of Ayele from Detroit. This and other conflicts later erupted into the well-known Castellammarese War.
When the conflict went beyond Chicago and transferred to New York, he collided with the Masseria forces led by Salvatore Maranzano, the first boss of the Bonanno Family. Masseria was a pretty tough opponent, but he changed dramatically with the murder of his chief strategist, Deputy Peter Morello, and a strong supporter and boss of the Gambino Family.
Lucky Luciano supplanted Masseria, killing him in one of the New York restaurants. Luciano easily took control of the family. Sometime later, in September 1931, he fooled Maranzano and killed him, thus becoming the undisputed leader of Cosa Nostra (Dickie, 2004).
Unlike the Masseria and Maranzano, Luciano knew that other leaders of the Mafia were tired of lawlessness, endless wars, and possibility of early death. Luciano, therefore, supported the idea of founding the Commission, which initially consisted of seven bosses. The Commission had to decide in arbitration disputes between families. It had to act as a corporation, and represented a board of mafia directors. The present scheme that has been created by the Commission is not known, but there is no doubt that, without Luciano, this method of control would not be accepted. It was the most influential and long time achievement of Luciano Salvatore (Varese, 2013).
Mid-1930s were the most difficult period for Luciano in his life. He became the main target of the well-known enemy racketeers. Thomas Dewey appeared in court as a defendant in the organization of prostitution in New York. Outcome of the trial was the verdict, on which Lucky Luciano was charged a thirty to fifty years sentence. The idea was that the fearsome deputy Vito Genovese would become the acting boss after Luciano’s imprisonment. However, Genovese was charged with murder and had to flee to Italy. A capo Frank Costello was the next who could be chosen as the cessionary of Luciano, who still hoped to overturn the conviction. Luciano was not supposed to get amnesty, but after the end of the World War II, he was released and deported to Italy. Later, in 1946, Luciano secretly visited Cuba. Thanks to Joe Bonanno, it became known that, since 1931, the Cosa Nostra meetings had been held every five years. Obviously, Luciano sought to attend the 1946 meeting to confirm his authority. After all, some explanation of the situation regarding leadership of the recently released Luciano and Genovese was crucial.
If the authority of Luciano’s Family was confirmed in Havana, it was rather a tacit agreement. Luciano’s presence in Cuba became known to the U.S. government; it had put pressure on Cuba, so they sent him back to Italy. Shortly thereafter, Salvatore Luciano went on the boat, returning to Italy. All the previous power that he had had for recent years was now almost lost. During the next 15 years, Luciano participated in other affairs. He was engaged in drug trafficking, which came from Asia, through Italy to the U.S., but he was never officially charged with this action. However, it was obvious that he was no longer a major figure of the American crime syndicate that he had created in his youth. In 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack in the Naples airport (Paoli, 2003).
By 1950, Luciano had been out of the game in the United States. It was the time to decide who had to be the new boss. This issue had become a serious bone of contention between Vito Genovese and Frank Costello. As Luciano’s deputy, Genovese felt that the post of boss legally belonged to him. Costello knew it and did the steps to interfere with the opponent’s plans. Unfortunately for Costello, his enemies were more cunning. In 1957, Costello was wounded by order of young Genovese Gigante. Consequently, Frank Costello wished to spend the rest of his life quietly, and resigned. During the 20 year reign, Costello earned a reputation of a talented diplomat, who preferred negotiation to violence. He gained great political influence with the help of a corrupt Tammany Hall, who danced to his tune (Lupo, 2009). After his resignation, Costello lived peacefully and happily without interfering in the affairs of the family and died of natural causes in 1973.
Genovese finally got the first prize, for which he had been waiting for so long. He, however, had a very short time to hold such an important post. In 1959, Genovese was convicted for drug trafficking. However, he continued to rule his family from prison. Drug trafficking, which was opposed by the majority of bosses of Cosa Nostra, caused the first violation of omerta, the law of silence. The traitor was the soldier of the Genovese Family, Joe Valachi. He was the first person who officially informed the public about the existence of a criminal syndicate Cosa Nostra (Reppetto, 2005). Valachi, just like his boss, was convicted of heroin trafficking. Vito Genovese, who shared award with him, began to suspect Valachi of being an informant for the Bureau of Narcotics, and gave the order to kill the man. Valachi guessed the plans of his boss and was alert all the time. As a result, he mistakenly killed the prisoner with a metal pipe whom he mistook for a contract performer. Joe Valachi faced the death penalty. The FBI offered him to testify in exchange for life; Valachi agreed.
Before going to jail, Genovese appointed his deputy Tommy Eboli to run the family during his absence. Eboli was assisted by Jerry Catena, Mike Miranda, and Anthony Strollo. Eboli was gradually gaining strength and influence, and everybody believed that he would take the place after the death of the head, Genovese. In 1972, however, Eboli lost the support of his boss, came into conflict with him, and was killed (Ethier, 2010). The family had no excitement since the murder was allowed by the Commission.
The Gambino Family
The first boss of the family was Salvatore De Aquila, who served as the boss of all bosses until his death in 1928. In 1957 Carlo Gambino came to power, and his reign lasted until 1976. In 1931, he served as the Gambino Family capo. For the next 20 years, he had been climbing the mobster ladder, eliminating rivals and enemies with great ease. He managed to extend the influence of his family at a huge space.
Since 2008, Daniel Marino, Bartolomeo Vernaccia, and John Gambino (a distant relative of Carlo Gambino) have run the family. The list of criminal activities is not allocated among the similar lists of four other families. This family earned money on everything from prostitution to racketeering and drug trafficking. Being the boss of the Gambino Family, Carlo produces a mixed feeling. On the one hand, Carlo Gambino, who had held the post for 19 years, had been gradually and methodically earning his wealth and fame. On the other hand, such disclosures as Paul Castellano and John Gotti took advantage of an excellent opportunity to become the boss of the family. Eventually, however, the first was killed, and the other one ended his life in a prison cell. Destiny of Castellano and Gotti is still fresh in the minds of the Gambino Family members, and it is not surprising that fewer and fewer of them are striving to become the bosses of the family.
Dzhozeppe Masseriya’s criminal group was founded in the late 1920s, when Al Mineo became the boss of this clan. At that time, Joe Masseria was the main figure in Cosa Nostra, and Mineo was his closest ally. Unfortunately for Mineo, this friendship ended in the early Castellammarese War, in 1930. The Castellammarese War was, apparently, the biggest conflict between the families of New York. This particular confrontation became known because it had involved all five families of New York, as well as other families, especially from Chicago and Detroit (Raab, 2013). Ultimately, this conflict urged the creation of the Commission, the governing body of Cosa Nostra for the past seventy years. The main belligerents in the war were Masseria of the Genovese Family and Salvatore Maranzano of the Bonanno Family. To weaken the position of Masseria, Maranzano decided to remove Mineo. Mineo was ambushed and shot in November 1930; his assistant, Steve Ferrigno was also killed (Ethier, 2010).
The main organizer of the attack was capo Frank Scalici. He was elected to the boss of the family, not because of his personal or leadership qualities, but because he was loyal to Maranzano people. It is known that Maranzano was killed in the Castellammarese War (Ethier, 2010). The power had passed to Lucky Luciano, who withdrew Scalici from the position of the boss and put Vincent Mangano in his place. Mangano was one of the first seven members of the Commission. Since his family was the most numerous and powerful one in New York, Mangano became the chairman of the Commission.
Vincent Mangano made Albert Anastasia his deputy; the choice was more than successful. First of all, Albert was one of the most respected personalities in Cosa Nostra; secondly, he was a friend of Luciano Salvatore. This fact ensured the protection of American most powerful bosses. Anastasia immediately developed a plan for the physical elimination of a very nimble and incorruptible prosecutor. Nevertheless, Mangano sprang to stop Anastasia from the reckless act. Schultz could not talk, and Luciano made the decision to kill the Dutchman.
The paradox of destiny happened. The murder of the Dutchman by Luciano saved the life of the prosecutor Dewey, who, after a while, would put Luciano behind the bars for 50 years. Anastasia was tired of playing the second fiddle. He decided to get out of his boss’ shadow and become the boss of the family. On April 18, 1951, with three shots, he killed Philip Mangano, the brother of Vincenzo Mangano. Albert Anastasia had ascended the throne and ruled the family for the last six years of his life. At that time, the long-standing war between the Genovese and Frank Costello continued. Costello and Anastasia were friends. Genovese was going to kill them both. A better plan than the one invented by crafty Vito could not be created by any other Mafiosi. The plan was to ask the first assistant to the Anastasia, Carlo Gambino, to arrange a royal funeral. Genovese promised Gambino Anastasia’s place (Dickie, 2004).
There was a struggle: on the one hand, Anastasia and Costello, on the other, Genovese and Gambino. Genovese wanted to come out clean and put the Gambino in his place; if they managed Frank, Anastasia would become the head of two families. Genovese did not want to give up his position, and was going to eliminate any competitors. As he had planned to kill Anastasia and put Gambino in his place, this could cost him control of even his family. The aims of the warring parties were the same; consequently, Genovese and Gambino failed to achieve them.
The contract for the murder of Albert Anastasia was charged for the Gallo brothers – Joe, Larry, and Alberta as they were the best assassins in Cosa Nostra. On October 26, 1957, Albert Anastasia was killed in a barbershop (Ethier, 2010). According to the rules of Cosa Nostra, the Commission had to recognize officially the authority of Vito Genovese and Carlo Gambino.
In addition, Vito Genovese haunted Salvatore Maranzano’s fame, who declared himself Capo di tutti Cappi – Boss of all bosses. Genovese had the same wish. On this occasion, he convened the national meetings of the bosses of all Cosa Nostra families from all over America. Congress should have occurred in the town of Appalachia on November 14, 1957.
The Lucchese Family
In the early 20s of the 20th century, the family was created by Gaetano Reina. After his death in 1930, his work was continued by Gaetano Galliano, who remained in power until 1953. Third consecutive leader of the family named Gaetano was a man who named his family Gaetano Lucchese. Lucchese helped Carlo Gambino and Genovese to achieve leadership in their families. Together with Carlo Gaetano, he took control of the Commission (De Stefano, 2006). Since 1987, de jure the family had been headed by Vittorio Amuso, and de facto – by a panel of three capos: Agnelli Migliore, Joseph Di Napoli, and Matthew Madonna.
The Lucchese Family was founded as a criminal gang in the Bronx at the beginning of the World War I. It was led by Gaetano Reina, who aimed to control the power in New York. In the 20s, Reina became an ally of Joseph Masseria, the most powerful Italian-American criminal leader in New York. Masseria soon became involved in the Castellammarese War, the terrible carnage with the warring Sicilian boss Salvatore Maranzano. Later on, Masseria started demanding part of criminal profits of Reina, pushing up Maranzano. Nevertheless, Masseria knew that Reina cold betray him and conspired with Lieutenant Gaetano Gagliano to kill Reina. On February 26, 1925, Reina was shot by Vito Genovese. After the death of Reina, Masseria ignoring Galliano put his soldier Joseph Pinzolo to head Reina’s clan. In September 1930, Lucchese lured Pinzolo deception in an office building in Brooklyn, where he was killed (Ethier, 2010).
With the assassination of Masseria in 1931, Maranzano managed to take control of all gang in the New York City. Later on, he reorganized them into five crime families. Gagliano became the boss of Reina’s clan, later known as the Lucchese Family, with Lucchese as his deputy. After the murder of Maranzano in September 1931, Lucky Luciano became the main boss in New York. However, Luciano kept the five families in the way they were created by Maranzano (Raab, 2013). In subsequent years, Gagliano and Lucchese introduced the family into profitable areas of transportation and apparel (Lupo, 2009). When Galliano died in 1953, Lucchese, who had remained loyal to his boss from the beginning to end, became the boss and appointed Vincent Rao as his deputy. He continued the tradition established by Galliano, creating a family that now bears his name and is the most profitable in New York. Lucchese continued to expand the family’s interests, controlling the union truck drivers, warehouse workers, and various trade associations and developing the racket at the new Idle Wild airport. He also developed a close relationship with politicians and members of the judiciary; this connection often helped the family. For all this, as well as for the fact that he kept it quiet, Lucchese successfully spent over 44 years in the Mafia never having been convicted. By the end of his life, Lucchese suffered a variety of health problems and his heart stopped on July 13, 1967. The next head of the family was Carmine Tramunti. By the time, Tramunti was almost 70 years old and suffered from a disease. Nevertheless, as the appointed boss Anthony Corallo was in prison, Tramunti was elected as a caretaker boss (Paoli, 2003). As a boss, Tramunti faced a number of charges and was eventually convicted of financing a major transaction of heroin. This event was followed by the arrest of the Pope and Vincent Anthony Loria Senior on the infamous case of the French Canal. Under the scheme, heroin worth millions of dollars was spread around the East Coast in the early 70s; this fact, in turn, caused corruption of the New York police. The scope and depth of this operation are still unknown, but officials suspected that police officers had been involved and provided access to the vault, where hundreds of kilograms of confiscated heroin were kept and were later replaced with flour (De Stefano, 2006). Substitution was only discovered when officers found insects feeding on the contents of the bags with heroin. By this time, heroin was gone in the street value of about $70 million.
The scam and arrests followed this operation. Some conspirators received prison sentences, including the Pope, who was killed later in the federal prison of Atlanta. Corallo became the boss in 1974, after the conviction of Tramunti. Consequently, Carmine Tramunti headed to the Lucchese Family boss and received a strong group in Queens. He actively engaged in trade unions and closely cooperated with Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the international union of truck drivers and warehouse workers. Corallo had close ties with the union of painters and decorators, as well as the plumbers union and union of workers of the textile industry. He appointed Salvatore Santoro as his deputy (Dickie, 2004). His adviser, Christopher Furnari, was looking for the entire racket in the field of labor and construction. The family prospered under Corallo’s leadership by actively participating in the drug traffic, union racketeering. and illegal gambling. Since Corallo had never discussed the cases at meetings, fearing police wiretaps, he discussed them in his Jaguar with chauffeur and bodyguard who had a telephone.
Corallo brought into the family and promoted Anthony Achcheturo and Michael Tachett, putting them at the head of the New Jersey group, which reportedly controlled most usurious transactions and gambling games in New Ark. While Corallo held strong leadership in the family of Lucchese, the FBI was able to install a bug in his car in the early 80s. Doing business on the phone from the car, he spent hours talking about the affairs of the gang, including everything from gambling and racketeering in the labor market to murders and drug trafficking. Consequently, Corallo was arrested soon and put on trial along with the heads of all Five Families at that time (Raab, 2013). This process became known as the Case of the Commission. Corallo was convicted on many different charges and had to spend the rest of his life in prison. He died in 2000. After the disappearance of the acting boss, Anthony Luongo, the next choice was Corallo Vittorio Amuso. In the late 80s, the Lucchese Family was going through a period of disunity. In 1986, Vittorio Amuso and his fierce deputy, Anthony Casso, seized control of the Lucchese crime family and established authoritative regime. Both were heavily involved in racketeering in the labor market, extortion, drug trafficking, and many murders. Amuso and Casso were strong enemies to the Gambino Family boss, John Gotti and faithful allies of the Genovese Family boss, Vincent Gigante. Disgruntled of unauthorized murder, Paul Castellano, Gotti, Amuso, Casso, and Gigante decided to kill Gotti. On April 13, 1986, explosion of the car killed the deputy boss of the Gambino Family, Frank De Chikko, but Gotti managed to escape the death.
This attempt had caused a long and obscure confrontation between the three Mafia families, with many deaths on all sides. In the late 80s, Amuso began demanding 50% of the Jersey group profit. New Jersey leaders Anthony Achcheturo and Michael Tachetta denied Amuso’s claims (Dickie, 2004). Amuso ordered to repay his guys referring to the destruction of the entire group in Jersey and invited them to a meeting in Brooklyn, New York. Fearing for their lives, however, none of the gangsters attended the meeting. Tachetta Achcheturo was convicted in 1990 while Amuso and Casso had to hide, driving their families away and ordering the murder of all those who created the problem, as well as the enemies and possible informants.
The Colombo Family
The Colombo Family was the youngest Mafia family of New York. It had been effectively operating since 1930 and until 1962 when Joe Profaci became the family boss. Although Joseph Colombo became the boss only in 1962 with the blessing of Carlo Gambino, the family was named after him, and not Profaci. Joe Colombo retired in 1971 when he received three bullets in the head, but survived. After that event, he lived seven years in a coma like a vegetable, as described by his accomplice Joe Gallo.
Today, the Colombo Family boss, Carmine Persico is serving a life sentence of 139 years for extortion, murder, and racketeering. After the death of Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, in 1931, the Castellammarese War came to an end, the structure of the American Mafia was changed by Lucky Luciano, who created five families, which became the basis of a new era of cooperation between the gangsters (Raab, 2013). One of these families, formed from the remnants of the Maranzano clan, became a gang led by Joe Profaci – a man who was hated by his subordinates for avarice and greed. When Profaci’s family settled in Brooklyn, it engaged in common mafia crimes, such as racketeering, extortion, gambling, robbery, and usury. Given the abuses in collecting the share, along with the old Sicilian tradition of doing things, it was surprising that the leadership of Profaci was not challenged until the late 50s. Many old-fashioned baleen pits were killed or taken out of the game during the reorganization of the Mafia by Luciano. Nevertheless, Profaci managed to keep his head intact, thanks to close ties with the leader of another family, Joe Bonanno.
However, ultimately, anger of some subordinates towards Profaci escalated the situation, and the conflicts that would haunt the family for decades emerged. Even people that were looking for a step forward like Carlo Gambino began to pour oil on flames in the family, trying to undermine Profaci’s alliance, Bonanno (De Stefano, 2006). Fortunately, the Gallo brothers: Larry, Albert, and Joey were inclined to accept Profaci’s initiative. Profaci took away the lion’s share of income from racketeering the brothers, and, in the end, they got sick of it. Bad feeling about the future conflict arose when Profaci ordered the murder of one of the Gallo guys, Frank Abbatemarko, just for the fact that he was allegedly disloyal and refused to pay his share to the boss(Lupo, 2009). In February 1961, the Gallo brothers kidnapped a number of prominent members of the family, including the deputy boss Joseph Maloko and capo Joe Colombo. In exchange for their release, the brothers demanded changes in the redistribution of the profit share. At first, it seemed that Profaci agreed to follow the negotiations between the kidnappers and his adviser Charles Lochichero. Nevertheless, Profaci only delayed time for organizing revenge for Gallo. The team member Joseph Gallo Dzhioeli was killed in September, and an attempt upon the life of Larry Gallo in the Brooklyn bar was prevented by police. Brothers in retaliation said they would attack Profaci people wherever possible. The war between the factions began. The Gallo brothers initiated two wars in the Colombo Family, both of which ended by their defeat (Dickie, 2004).
During 1961-1962, the heads of other families, except Bonanno, strongly pressured Profaci, urging him to resign as a boss. His health was deteriorating and, on June 6, 1962, he died of cancer. As the head of the family, he was substituted by Maloko, the one like Profaci, especially in terms of relations with the Gallo brothers, who did not intend to stop the war because of Profaci’s death. The two best killers hired by Maloko, Carmine Persico and one of his most trusted men, Hugh McIntosh, were attacked by the Gallo brothers but survived. The Gallo brothers continued to plan further attacks on Maloko’s people, but the authorities had other plans at their expense. A number of the Gallo gang members were convicted of racketeering, and two others were killed by the Maloko mercenaries and nominal leader of the gang, Joey Gallo, who was in jail and was unable to prevent the disruption of the grouping.
Removing the Gallo brothers from his way, Maloko could consolidate his leadership and focus on the family business. However, Joe Bonanno’s conspiracy plotted murder of the three heads of criminal families and Maloko was careless enough to join him in this plan. Nevertheless, Joe Colombo, who was entrusted the execution plan, realized that it was a bad idea and spilled the beans to Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese. Bonanno and Maloko were summoned to the court of the Commission. The former boss went into hiding, and Maloko faced the trial for his crimes. Being aware that this plot was pulled by Bonanno, he agreed to pay $50000 fine and resign as a boss. He soon died of natural causes (Dickie, 2004).
For his loyalty, as well as because the Gambino Family thought he could control his actions, Colombo was appointed after Maloko. To dismiss all associations with the former boss, the family was renamed after Colombo. The family wished to get rid of the halo of greed and despicable attitude, with which Profaci treated his people. At the age of 41, Colombo became the youngest mafia leader because of his experience that still had been questioned by many. This question became apparent after his son’s arrest on charges of counterfeiting; Colombo created the Rights Defense League of the Italian-Americans that aimed to protect people from the tyranny of the authorities. Many would agree that the Colombo was a very rich family and Pietro made the gang even richer, being one of the best racketeers of the clan. Joey Gallo was released from jail in February 1971. Four months later, Joe Colombo was assassinated, and he was turned into a vegetable. Suspicion fell on Gallo. At the meeting of the League at Columbus Circle on June, 28, Colombo was shot when he pushed his way to the dais. The gunman, a young black man named Jerome Johnson was himself shot and killed by one of Colombo’s people. Gallo was suspected of murder, largely because he openly collaborated with the black criminals in Harlem, considering them potential partners in the new and profitable areas of criminal activity. Gallo was gunned down in Umberto’s Restaurant on the Mulberry Street on April 7, 1972.
The Colombo family needed a period of calm. Colombo had no time to manage family and leadership passed to Thomas Di Bella, a man that had been hiding from the authorities since 1932, when he was accused of bootlegging. Colombo died in 1978, and Di Bella resigned due to illness in 1977, leaving a serious power vacuum. However, Carmine Persico was the first candidate for the boss, but he had been sent to jail so often for the past ten years, that it was not clear whether he was able to rule the family or not. However, he coordinated the family from prison with the help of Gennaro Lanzhelly, a street boss until the mid-80s, when both were convicted on the RICO law with 100 year term (Paoli, 2003). The fact of life imprisonment has not changed Persico’s leadership, who gave the orders of the 80 Federal Prisons Lompoc, using dummy bosses, such as his cousin Vittorio Oren. Oren, however, wished to present, rather than to obtain the nominal leadership and the battle for control broke out between supporters of Oren, including the leader of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti, and people loyal to Persico. A failed assassination attempt on Oren, has led to the intervention of the Commission; an advisor Carmine Persico organized a session attempt and had to answer for his boss. Failing consensus, Oren’s people on November 18, 1991 ambushed Persico capo, Gregory Scarpa Elder, who was in a car with his family. All family members, however, managed to escape, and even avoid injuries. Not being reassured, Oren’s supporters killed Persico’s man Henry Smurra. Finally, with many casualties on both sides, the police intervened and Oren, his capo Pasquale Amato, and many soldiers on both sides were sent to prison. In 1993, Oren and Amato were sentenced to life imprisonment. Therefore, with the decapitated Oren’s clan, Persico celebrated victory and continued to rule the family from behind the bars. Carmine Persico, according to the head, still effectively manages the Colombo Family. He is now in federal prison of North Carolina. His son, Alphonse Persico, was supposed to be the boss, but in December 2007, he was convicted along with overbearing deputy boss John De Russy for murdering William Cutolo in 1999. On February 27, 2009, Alphonse Persico, 55, and John De Russy, 71 years old, were sentenced to life imprisonment without the right of appeal.
John Franzese was supposed to be a deputy boss after Persico. Franzese has spent most of his life in prison, and even serious legal restrictions did not stop him from desiring to take a post on the top of the family power. Franzese was arrested in May 2007 for violating parole. Thomas Gioeli does business on the street. Today, the family consists of about 60 – 70 members, thus being one of the smallest of the Five Families (Raab, 2013). Rumor is that, after Gioeli Capo’s arrest, the former street boss Andrew Russo took over as the acting boss again.
The Bonanno Family
The Bonanno Family was founded in 1920 and the first boss Cola Skira. In 1930, he was replaced by Salvatore Maransano. After the plot of Lucky Luciano and the Commission, Joe Bonanno led the family until 1964. The Bonanno Family is from New York and traces its history back to the beginning of the century. Based in Brooklyn, it united people from the island of Sicily. Other families were in Buffalo and Detroit; one more family was in Chicago, headed by Joe Aiello. In the late 1920s, Aiello battled Al Capone for control of the business in Chicago. In 1930, the conflict spread to New York, where the real drama was played out between the powerful supporter of Al Capone – Joe Masseria and boss of Castellammares – Salvatore Maranzano. Disassembly and subsequent brutal everyday firefight went down in history just as the Castellammarese War. It is recognized as the largest and bloodiest conflict in the history of Cosa Nostra. Ultimately, Maranzano won and Masseria was killed by Lucky Luciano’s people. Salvatore Maranzano was then the most powerful Mafia boss in the continent. Nevertheless, he was not destined to hold this position for a long time. His desire to despotism angered many members of the organization, including Lucky Luciano. As a result, Luciano’s people killed Maranzano four months after ascending to the post of Capo di tutti Capi – the Boss of all Bosses. After that event, it became necessary to choose a new boss for the family. Stefano Magaddino, an influential boss of the Buffalo Family, convinced his cousin – Joe Bonanno to take this post. With such authoritative support, Bonanno without delay was elected a boss of the family with about 300 members. Magaddino expected
Bonanno to lobby his interests in gratitude and become a vassal boss of the Buffalo Family, but he was wrong (Lupo, 2009). Early in his career, Bonanno played an important role in the creation of the Commission. Originally consisting of seven bosses, the authority had to make trade-offs and peacefully resolve disputes between families in order to avoid bloodshed. This strategy was considered a safer alternative to the previous practice of referring to the most powerful Mafia leader for a decision. This method created despots like Masseria and Maranzano, and nobody wanted a repeat.
Over the next thirty years, Bonanno and his family prospered. This success and the fact that Joe Bonanno had solid allies in the Commission meant that there was no threat to his power. This family had earned much money on gambling, racketeering, and drug trafficking. To increase profits from the latter, Bonanno expanded the business to Montreal, Canada; it has quickly become a major heroin transit point between Europe and the United States.
Carlo Gambino did not like everything to be so smooth. Dark clouds began to gather over his head. Bonanno’s authority began to fall in 1957 when his main ally Albert Anastasia was murdered and replaced by future adversary, Carlo Gambino. He played a major role in the main scandal associated with the national meeting of Cosa Nostra in Apalachee, because of which Bonanno, began to take to get away in the shade for a while. In such a difficult situation, Joe Bonanno first appeared vulnerable to his enemies (Dickie, 2004).
Bonanno then began a hopeless battle to regain support. He claimed that the Commission had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of his family. Second, he argued that the Commission had no legal rights, as their five-year term ended in 1961. When those arguments failed, he organized his own kidnapping and went into hiding. That was another mistake. Finally, Bonanno appeared in public, and the street shooting began; experts call this later period the War of Bonanno. In 1968, however, Bonanno leaves New York and moves to Arizona. The Commission, in the creation of which he was directly involved, was his worst enemy.
In 1975 Carmine Galante took the place of the family boss. Although Joe Bonanno spent the 60s in prison after being convicted of drug trafficking, it did not stop his successor Galante, who quickly regained all contacts in Sicily and filled the entire east coast with the white powder soon. Wealth flowing into the hands of other bosses made Galante very nervous. Drug trafficking aroused discontent among politicians who, at any moment, could start a crusade against Cosa Nostra. Galante poured some oil on the flames by bringing cruel Sicilian rebels into the family. This situation led to the approval of Galante’s murder in July 1979 by the Commission (Dickie, 2004).
Nevertheless, death could not bring peace to the Galante Family. It took another bloody fight, in which the three capos were killed. It was the suppression of the last rebellion. Unfortunately for Sonny Napolitano, raising it to the capo did not make him happy. He allowed an undercover FBI agent, Joe Pistone, penetrate deep enough into the family. As soon as it became known, Napolitano was killed by order of the Commission.
Around this time, Joe Bonanno unexpectedly returned to business. Several years earlier, he published his autobiography, Joe Bonanno – A Man of Honor, in which he described in detail the history of the Commission. These memories were immediately put into circulation by the FBI agents and federal prosecutors, who launched an unprecedented attack on Cosa Nostra in the Case of the Commission. The results were not long in coming: some members and their assistants received 100-year prison sentences. Bonanno accidentally received revenge over Commission for his excommunication, but his main enemies, Carlo Gambino and Magaddino, had been already dead (Dickie, 2004).
If to speak about the Bonanno Family inheritance, for decades, the clan had been justifiably considered the biggest drug trafficker. Many of its members, including well-known Galante, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for heroin trafficking. The family had been engaged in drug trafficking for almost a hundred years. The family used to betray and kill its friends what means that Joe Bonanno had no idea of what a real man of honor is.
Today, Five Families control the entire New York area, including even North New Jersey. They also do their business outside the state, in Las Vegas, South Florida, and Connecticut. Five Families of New York is a unique phenomenon in the world of organized crime. It is among the most influential criminal structures on the planet, established by the immigrants. Still the backbone of every family is Italian-Americans, they follow a clear hierarchy and strong traditions. Mafia is thriving despite repeated arrests and high-profile lawsuits; its story continues nowadays.