THE AMERICAN MAFIA
THE AMERICAN MAFIA
By early 1900, about 500,000 Italian immigrants
lived in New York City.
When official government proved unable to
meet Italian immigrants’ needs, the Mafia
assumed de facto power in the neighborhoods.
Blocked from access to legitimate success, the
Mafia fell back on illegitimate activities that
reliably yielded power and money.
By 1930, two OC factions operated in New York:
• Masseria’s group in East Harlem
• Maranzano’s group in midtown
The struggle for domination of OC in New York
was called the “Castellammarese war.”
Masseria lost when gunned down in April 1931.
Maranzano’s old-world style alienated his men;
they solved the problem by gunning him down
in September 1931.
Lucky Luciano became most important Italian
OC figure in New York.
Other key New York Mafia figures include:
The Luciano/Genovese Family—
• Frank Costello
• Vito Genovese
• Vincenzo “Chin” Gigante
The Mineo/Gambino Family—
• Al Mineo
• Frank Scalese
• Albert Anastasia
• Carlo Gambino
• John Gotti
The Reina/Lucchese Family—
• Gaetano “Tommy” Reina
• Thomas Lucchese
The Profaci/Colombo Family—
• Joseph Profaci
• Joseph Colombo
• Carmine Persico
The Bonanno Family—
• Joe “Don Peppino” Bonanno
• OC in Chicago is traceable to mayor’s race
of 1873, when Mike McDonald backed the
• Until he died in 1907, McDonald controlled
mayors, congressmen, and senators.
• McDonald also controlled gambling, bribed
police and city officials, and influenced
every election via biased articles in his
newspaper, The Globe.
Other key figures in Chicago OC include:
• Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna
• John “Bathhouse” Coughlin
• James “Diamond Jim” Colosimo
• Johnny Torrio
• Alphonse “Scarface” Capone
• Dion O’Bannion
• Frank Nitti
• Paul Ricca
• Tony Accardo
• Sam Giancana
• Joseph Ferriola
• Sam Carlisi
• John “No-Nose” DiFronzo
CHICAGO STREET CREWS
While New York OC has five Families, Chicago’s
Outfit is organized as street crews; each crew is
associated with a geographic area.
Gambling is a primary activity of each crew, but
crews also have criminal specialties:
• Grand Avenue: burglary
• 26th Street: truck hijacking
• North Side/Rush Street: prostitution, porn
• Chicago Heights: auto theft, chop shops
• Grand Street and Elmwood Park: theft from
semitrailers parked in railway freight yards
American Mafia Structure: New York
• Basic OC unit is the Family
• Membership constitutes a “franchise”
• Members are independent, not employees
• Members pursue their own moneymaking
schemes, share profits with the Family
• Members who are good earners may be
promoted to caporegime (captain)
• Membership draws interest of/attention
from law enforcement
The bosses of New York’s OC Families
constitute a commission that:
• Regulates and facilitates relationships
• Promotes and facilitates joint ventures
• Resolves actual and potential disputes
• Regulates criminal activities
• Recognizes new bosses
• Resolves leadership disputes
AMERICAN MAFIA RULES
• Always show respect to those who command it.
• Report any failure to show respect to your patron
• Violence must be used, even if only of a limited
type, to ensure respect.
• Never ask for surnames.
• Never resort to violence in a dispute with a
member or associate of another Family.
• Never resort to, or even threaten, violence in a
dispute with a member of your Family.
• Do not use the telephone except to arrange for a
meeting, preferably in code, from which you will
then travel to a safe place to discuss business.
• When discussing business, avoid specifics
beyond those necessary for understanding.
• Keep your mouth shut—anything you hear or see
stays with you, in your head; do not talk about it.
• Do not ask unnecessary questions; information
given to you is all you need to do your job.
• Never engage in homosexual activities.
• Patrons arranging for parties to work together
assume responsibility for arbitrating disputes
between the parties.
• The boss can unilaterally direct violence, including
murder, against any member of his Family, but
cannot engage in murder-for-hire to make a
profit from murder.
• The boss cannot use violence against a member
or close associate of another Family without prior
consultation with that Family’s boss.
• The principal form of security is an elaborate
system of referral and vouching.
• Vouching for someone discovered as an informant
or undercover officer earns the death penalty.
Chicago OC has always been a cooperative
venture between groups.
• There are no independent entrepreneurs;
bosses make important decisions.
The Outfit’s boss is akin to a CEO assisted
by influential senior members.
• He controls three area bosses.
• He settles disputes between street crews.
• He maintains relations with corrupt public
officials and OC groups in other cities.
• Area bosses control their street crews.
• Crews are independent of other crews.