Fall and Rise of the Sicilian Mafia

It is very much tough to identify the Cosa Nostra or Sicilian Mafia’s beginning. The reason is because of the lack of any kind of historical record keeping and the Mafia’s secretive nature. In Sicily’s history, an upheaval was witnessed in 1812, when this island community had converted to capitalist government form from that of a feudalist. It was during that time that the Cosa Nostra might have begun or later in the 1860, with the annexation of the island by mainland Italy.

Written references

There were found some written references pertaining to Sicilian Mafia in 1864, prepared by Palermo National Guard leader named Nicollo Colonna. His writings had depicted about a sect of robbers that had been operating across the island. Special signals were used by this sect for recognizing one another.  In most of the regions, they enjoyed political protection and was abiding by a loyalty code, made efforts to avoid any kind of interaction with police officials. The sect was only made stronger and popular with the brutal attempts of the Italian governments, according to the warnings of Colonna.

Crushing of the Mafia under Mussolini

With fascist rule in Italy under Benito Mussolini, a campaign was initiated in 1925 for destroying Cosa Nostra as well as its political allies. For this purpose, Palermo’s prefect, Cesare Mori was appointed and provided with special powers for attacking the Mafia.

Mafiosi’s children and wives were held hostage for forcing them to surrender and more than 11,000 arrests had been made. Trials in huge numbers were held and 1,200+ men had been convicted and imprisoned. There were many who had been exiled without any trial. However, as the proclamation of the Fascist, Cosa Nostra was not completely destroyed, but most of the families did break up.

Revival of the Mafia

With the invasion of the Allied troops in 1943, the Sicilian Mafia resurfaced, with the ensuing chaos and there were noticed soaring crime rates and inmates escaping prisons, while black market thrived. With an intention to have the Fascist mayors to be replaced, the Allies unknowingly had appointed several Mafiosi. Having gained power and control of the island’s construction, the cement plants, metal depots and quarries, there was no looking back. Protection money was extorted from the construction firms and wholesalers if they were not members. By 1982, about 80% of heroin trade was controlled by the Mafia in the northeastern part of the United States.