Morello crime family – The earliest mafia family in the US

United States’ earliest mafia family is the Morello family, who were said to be based in the Italian Harlem of Manhattan. This family by defeating Brooklyn’s rival Neapolitan Camorra became the dominant Italian underworld gang.

Some aspects to understand

The Morello family was founded by Giuseppe Morello during the 1890’s and had Sicilian ethnicity. This mafia family was into different types of criminal activities such as murder, conspiracy, extortion, counterfeiting and racketeering.

Its mafia history

This family has its roots in Corleone, Sicily. It was in 1892 that Guiseppe had emigrated to the U.S. He along with his family had lived for a while in the city of New York, before moving to Louisiana and again in 1986 moved back to New York City.

The 107th Street Mob

After returning to New York, the brothers became popular as 107th street mob and at times known as the Morello Gang, which dominated Manhattan, East Harlem and parts of Bronx. A mobster named Ignazio Lup was the strongest ally of Giuseppe Morello, who controlled Manhattan’s Little Italy. Their alliance prospered in 1903, when a significant counterfeiting ring had began with Vito Cascio Ferro, the Sicilian Mafioso Don printing bills of $5 in Sicily to have it smuggled to the U.S. Morello is said to have employed several members belonging to the  counterfeiting operation. ‘Barrel murders’ which took place later, especially of Sr. Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Catania were assumed to have been done at the instance of the Morellos.

Rising power

The hold over Upper Manhattan was further consolidated by the Morello family. On 15th November 1909, the building that was being used by the Morellos in New York’s Highland place was raided by the city police as it was being used as a front to carry out counterfeiting operation. Huge amounts of Canadian and American counterfeit bills were recovered during this raid. About mafia members from the Morello family was arrested after letters were discovered by victims of Black Had from New Orleans. The arrested included Ignazio Lupo and Giuseppe Morello sentenced to imprisonment for 25 and 35 years respectively and sent to Atlanta Federal Prison.