Tag: mafia

Emergence of the Mafia in Las Vegas

Mafia and Las Vegas as a casino city

The Mafia has always regarded gambling to be an important business. Right from betting on horses, to card games and other types of sports, the members of the Mafia are said to have earned huge from them. Also, they did operate several luxurious and illegal gambling operations across the U.S. Law enforcement agencies and Police Officers were considered to be on the payroll of the different Mafia families that operated in Las Vegas and beyond and hence, ignored all their illegal operations, thereby protecting their activities and enhancing their growth and power. But a significant event that took place in 1931 completely changed casinos and gambling history in the U.S., with the Nevada State legalizing gambling.


Las Vegas during the early 1940s was regarded to be a dirty town located in the desert middle with just few junk food diners, slot machine emporiums and gas stations. It was not a good place for residing or doing business. It was only after the ending of the Second World War that moneymaking potentiality was discovered by the Mafias in this part of the country. It was with great interest that the town had been eyed by Al Capone. However, his plans of making the place into a haven for casinos and hotels for travelers and tourists were never completed.

Emergence of the Mafias in Las Vegas

This place remained Mafia free for a long time, until its potentiality was discovered by Mafioso Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Before its formation, travelers had to visit Cuba for enjoying their time. The highly corrupt Batista regime had then welcomed gangsters in Cuba and casinos made huge profits. With the revolution by Fidel Castro and opening of the very first casino at Las Vegas compelled people with no other option to choose this city for legal gambling.

It was the excellent organizational skill and imagination of Siegel as well as Mafia money that the initial gambling resort of the city named ‘The Flamingo ‘was launched on 26th December 1946. Thus began the first of several Mafia financed resorts, while Las Vegas is said to have proved to be a highly profitable as well as legal business for Mafia members. It was due to the efforts, organizational and innovation skills of the different Mafia that the once dull desert town, has been presently converted into the much glitzy ‘Strip’ that is visited by tourists not only from within the country, but from all parts of the world to get indulged in gambling and to seek pleasures.

Emergence and the strengthening of the Mafia families in Sicily

The Mafia is known to have originated from Sicily and hence, it is termed to be their motherland. The beautiful land of Sicily located within the Mediterranean Sea is said to be infested with limitless series of assassinations, crime and vendetta. Sicilian Mafia is considered to be around 100 Mafia Family’s loose confederation, with every family claiming sovereignty over a specific territory, generally a bigger city’s neighborhood, town or village. The single Mafia families had been the only rule bodies in the region for several years and remained actual centers of powers, although subordinate bodies had been created in 1950’s such as Sicilian Mafia Commission.

Role models or criminals!

Majority of the Sicilian population had regarded the Mafia to  be role models for everyone and not as mere criminals, someone who can be imitated and followed, since the weak, poor and oppressed were not offered any protection from the ruling government. Even during the 1950s, the Mafioso was regarded by the common people with high respect, someone who stood for greatness of characters, defense of rights and respect of law. The Mafia in Sicily once had stood for something such as honor, pride and also social responsibility. At the same time, being a Mafioso did mean, being generous, noble and honorable.

Re-emergence of the Mafia in Sicily

It was the aftermath of the 1848 and 1860 revolution that Sicily had was into complete anarchy and disorder. During the revolt, the early Mafia families, being small outlaw bands had offered their services to fight to curb the revolt. The reason behind it was to avail the opportunity to have their police records and other evidences to be burnt up and to kill those witnesses and police in the ensuing chaos. But then a new government had been established, thereby making it impossible for the group to carry out their intended plans without state retaliation and prosecution. Hence, during the 19th century’s latter half, they started to have their techniques and methods to be refined. They found protecting local nobility’s large estates and lemon groves to be lucrative business. Their core area of operation then was Palermo, Sicily’s capital, however, their dominance due to patronization from the nobles got them to spread across Sicily. It was in the mid 19th century that the Mafia Families started to strengthen their bond between one another and formed organizations, so as to enhance greater profits and derive safer working condition for everyone.

Mafia during the 1980’s

The Mafia right after the prohibition era divulged into different types of illegal activities to make huge profits and there emerged several Families that took control of their respective region. However, each era saw the emergence of a different group that took the lead in crime and had its own importance.

The 1980s

The small skirmishes, which is said to have accompanied consistently till now among the different Mafia families, was said to have converted into a full-fledged battle which had erupted during the 1980s. It was during this period that Mafiosi in tends and hundreds were said to have been killed in the various gang wars which took place. The early 1980s saw major upheavals to take place with the socio-political Mafia world clime changing very fast and scales were noticed to be tilted towards its favor.

Emergence of the Corleonesi Crime Family as a powerful one

Initially, the Corleonesi Crime family had been shunned by the Mafia bosses. The different reasons cited for the same was because this family had come from very little power and also hailed from Corleone, a small rural town. The Corleonesi family had been avoided for quite a long time, until its leadership was assumed by the ruthless Luciano Leggio. It is only after his coming to power that the family started to gain support from other families around. Leggio, along with his new found power got into the habit to have rival Mafia bosses to be eliminated. As Leggio had to go into hiding to escape law, Riina, his successor followed the same policy like his predecessor and exhibited similar ruthlessness. On 23rd April, 1981, Bontade, the Corleonesi family’s rival was gunned down to death, which is a clear testament of their ruthlessness and determination to eliminate their opponents. Another rival name Inzerillo got gunned with bullets some days later.

30th November 1982 can be regarded to be an interesting day for the history books, when in twelve different incidents which took place in Palermo saw twelve Mafiosi to be murdered, with few cadavers who turned up in those faraway places. Over 500 Mafiosi were said to have been killed, while about 160+ had disappeared from 1980 onward.

Using brute, violent and powerful force, it is without doubt that the Corleonesi Crime Family had become unarguable the most violent and powerful force of the decade. When compared to the functioning standard of the Sicilian ways of murdering State authorities when there was no other choice left with the Mafia, the Corleonesi Family simply did not spare any one. State figures who were anti-Mafia also had been their target.

Mafia and Organized Criminal activities

According to the experts Organized crime has been defined as criminal activities, which is performed by extensive proficient criminal group, which depends upon illegal activities for earning huge amounts in profits. Financial profits which are gained through the functioning of different types of illegal activities are known as black money. These organizations are controlled by centralized syndicate and have synchronized actions.

What is Mafia all about?

Mafia is regarded to be a term which is used to describe different organizations which are responsible towards performing or coordinating variety of organized methods of criminal activities. The Mafia in the U.S. is also called the ‘Mob’. The very first Mafia which had come into existence was the Sicilia Mafia also called ‘La Cosa Nostra’. The person employed with the Mafia was known as ‘Mafioso’.0909

Other Mafiosi

There do exist ‘Mafia’ across the globe and are called popularly the Serbian Mafia, Albanian Mafia, Russian Mafia, etc. with their names being based upon their location. There are many organizations, which are considered to be similar to that of the Mafia, however, are called by various names. Few are mentioned below:

  • Chinese Triads
  • Irish Mob
  • Japanese Yakuza
  • Unione Corse
  • Neapolitan Camorra

The Mafia can be termed to be a gathering of numerous criminal organizations, who are controlled like that of a business, while having hierarchical structure.

Knowing the hierarchy

  • The ‘thugs’ or ‘soldiers’ are at the hierarchy bottom, who work on the less significant tasks like money extortion, etc.
  • Above them are the ‘enforcers’, who are actually bodyguards of those who protect their establishment and hire other criminals for carrying out odd jobs. Own financial establishments are possessed by the enforcers.
  • Above the enforcers are the ‘Commissioners’, who have the capability and power to control or handle the whole city or a widespread region.
  • The boss is above them, who control the individual organization from the multiple organizations of the Mafia Family.
  • Top of the pyramid structure sits ‘The Godfather’, whose word is final and has to be followed by every member of the chain without any question.

Multiple organizations present within the Mafia are known to specialize in specific crime types. They are responsible for crimes such as smuggling or narcotics trafficking, extortion, gambling, hideous crimes like kidnappings, assassinations, murders and prostitution. The Mafia organization which is specialized in assassinations, while having killed any person if ordered to, was known infamously among the media as ‘Murder Inc.’.

Knowing about the Rochester Mafia Family

The Rochester Mafia Family is regarded to be another New York based organized crime family which was found around 1950s by Buffalo crime family. This family is known to operate in the county of Monroe and also that of Western New York. It is involved actively in various types of criminal activities such as gambling, extortion, prostitution, racketeering and loan sharking.

Members of the family

The Rochester Family’s initial official boss was Costenze Stan Valenti. He along with Frank Valenti, his brother got arrested. For a period of 16 months, Stan was jailed and both the brothers in 1964 came down to New York with Angelo Vaccaro, the associate of Pittsburgh family. Frank had become the Pittsburgh crime family’s capo and went on to become the head of the Rochester Family.  The boss of Buffalo Family, Stefano Magaddino was told by him that his family would now start operations independently.

Activities of the family

Frank Valenti in 1970 had planned to bomb numerous churches and public buildings in the city, which is remembered in history as Columbus Day Bombings. Samuel Red Russotti, the Underboss along with Rene Piccarreto the consigliere and Salvatore Sammy Gingello, the capo in 1972, informed Frank that he was no longer the family boss. This made Frank to flee away to Arizona. After his leaving the position, Russoti was declared the boss and Gingello his Underboss, while Piccarreto still remained the consigliere. Although things went on smoothly for a while, police officials did come across several evidences to have all the top level members of this mafia family to be arrested and put behind bars. During this period, Thomas Didio had been elected to become the acting boss.

The top level arrested members were released from prison. Russotti thought that dealing and manipulating Thomas Didio could be easy and to be taken care of later on, something that went on to become a wrong assumption made. It did result in a dispute to be created among the group members. One group comprised of Piccarreto, Russotti, Gingello along with others, while the other group comprised of Stan Valenti, Thomas Didio, Angelo Vaccaro, Rosario Chirico and others. In the ensuing war for accession for leadership, Didio and Gingello were killed. The family’s criminal activities after this slowly declined and presently not proof is left if the Rochester family actually exists still now or has completely got dispersed.

All about the Mafia families of the 1930’s era

The Mafia families were said to have come from Sicily, at a time, when their activities there were hampered by the law authorities and were either forced into exile or arrested, convicted to be sentenced to life term or hanged till death. To escape this, they had fled to the United States, where they diversified into different regions and established their control over their respective areas.

Influence of the Mafia

With the alcohol prohibition being lifted in the year 1933, the Mafia bootlegging industry was in grave danger to lose its business. Very soon, the Mafia had its trade to be shifted to prostitution and drugs as alcohol became easily available. The changes noticed in this scheme were regarded to be the master plan of Salvatore Luciana, who was popularly called Lucky Luciano by many. This Mafia legend had a clear vision. After few bloodbath series, which obliterated traditional Mafia clans that is known to have preferred Omerta against profiteering, another scheme was said to be engineered by Luciano for preserving source of livelihood. With alcohol business more than finished, prostitution and drugs seemed to the Mafia members to be an assuring financial option. However, for carrying out these illegal activities, the Mafia was required to team with the Irish and Jewish rivals. This alliance did last long for 40 years and more.

Trading in heroin and other illegal drugs

Heroin was regarded to be a viable alternative, since not many heroin addicts is said to have existed like that of alcoholics. Although the heroin market lacked in numbers, but it did provide the facility to transport it without any hassle, since heroin is much lighter in weight and can be easily shipped and distributed to any region within the U.S. It was discovered by Luciano that when his prostitutes were drugged, they had turned to become much more subservient, while being more eager to perform and provide immense satisfaction to their clients. Furthermore, usage of heroin did drive the prostitute to get into serious addiction, which automatically meant that the Mafia can add them to their existing customers for the illegal trade carried out by them.

Other activities

Among all this aspects, another idea struck Luciano, which was forming of the multi-family commission that is likely to approve and regulate the mafia activities. It was the bosses who represented their respective families of which the notorious among them was regarded to be Al Capone.

The Commission and the Mafia families

It was Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, who in 1931 had established The Commission in New Jersey’s Atlantic City. However, its formation did not help prevent the gang wars which ensued. But the frequency and scale of gang wars that did take place got reduced to a considerable extent. Once a Mafia family had declared war on the other group, then the aggressor family automatically found itself at war not only with the other family, but also with that of the Commission and remaining Mafia members. The Families, in this manner were provided with a powerful incentive for having their disputes negotiated without actually indulging in wars or bloodshed of any sort.

Importance of the Commission

The Commission at times appointed a new Don of a Family for settling wars as well as internal conflicts. However, the previous Don or the usurper was assassinated. The Bonanno War fought by the Bonanno Family is a classic example of this type of case.

History of The Commission

Originally, it comprised of Dons from 7 Mafia families, Five Family leaders of New York (Tommy Gagliano, Vincent Mangano, Joe Profaci, Joseph Bonanno and Lucky Luciano), Buffalo (Stefano Magddino) and Al Capone from the Chicago’s Outfit, representing everything present in Western U.S. But after the Apalachin Convention held in 1957, The Commission allowed the entrance of two more family leaders.,  who were Joseph Zerilli ‘Joe Z’ of Detroit Partnership and Angelo Bruno ‘Gentle Don’ of Philadelphia Crime Family. But over 1960’s and 70’s, these positions declined.

Current affairs of the Commission

Currently, the membership of The Commission is said to comprise of bosses from the Five Families, Philadelphia Crime Family and The Chicago Outfit. Due to the recent FBI crackdowns on the Mafia families, its activities were being kept a guard secret from public view.

Enrolling members

Joining the syndicate was also allowed to the non-Italian mobsters. However, voting power was considered to be limited strictly to that of the Italian members. The Commission’s Financial Advisor and Luciano’s chief advisor was Lansky. The Commission had no ‘Boss’, but there was the post of a Chairman, who was nominated.

The aims and beliefs of The Commission were enforced via Murder, Inc. operation, which was notorious and ran from Brooklyn. It was by voting that The Commission approved and authorized the service. With the target numbers limited generally to a few or single individuals, The Commission, in this manner prevented confusion circumstance, which otherwise may have resulted in gang wars, while minimizing exposure to the press.

Mafia and the Ten Commandments

To make a positive impact on Mafia activities, it is necessary for the FBI and different legal organizations to understand about their activities and to derive inside information with regards to Caporegimes and the Dons. It is possible to have raids on illegal gambling rings, drug deals and to arrest involved people. However, there is a need to have the Capos, Underboss and the Don to be arrested for damaging the mafia family completely. Infiltrating into the family is the only way to achieve this, a task that is undertaken by undercover agents.

The undercover’s job

The job involving the FBI agent to work as an enforcer or mob associate and tackling the mafia members is incredible dangerous and risky. In case, the truth gets discovered or if caught during act of having information leaked out, without any remorse, he is to be executed, riddled with bullets or tortured to death.

Knowing the Mafia’s Ten Commandments

The ‘Ten Commandment’ list has been found by the Sicilian police in November 2007 at Salvatore Lo Piccolo, the mafia boss’ hideout. Italian investigators are of the opinion that Salvatore, who since 1993 was on the run, was in the race to be   the Sicilian Mafia’s subsequent ‘boss of bosses’. The Mafia’s Ten Commandments are considered to be quite similar to that of the Ten Commandments of the Bible, as they are supposed to be their guiding force as to how the mafia members are to be a respectable, honorable, good Mafioso.

A preamble is said to be found in the beginning of the list, stating the following, “I hereby swear to remain loyal to the Cosa Nostra. Lest I betray, shall my flesh burn’.

Ten Commandments

  • A third person is required to be present, when presenting to another friend, something that is not to be done directly.
  • Presence along with cops is to be avoided.
  • Friends’ wives are never to be looked at.
  • Clubs and pubs are to be avoided.
  • Appointments need to be respected fully.
  • It is a duty to be present always for Cosa Nostra, even if wife is to give birth to the child.
  • Wives are to be treated with equal respect.
  • Money is not to be appropriated, in case, it belongs to other families or others.
  • Answer is to be clear, honest and complete if information is asked for.
  • Who cannot be in the group: people having close relative as police, two timing relative present within the family, those not holding to moral values and behaving badly.

About the California based Los Angeles Mafia Family

Los Angeles Mafia family is said to be based in the state of California. This mafia family rose during the early part of the 20th century and spread all over Southern California. It had gained immense power during Prohibition Era and the method used was bootlegging. It was between 1940 – early 50s that it wielded great influence and power under the leadership of Jack Dragna. Although this mafia family was not bigger, when compared to the Chicago or New York families, he was said to be on The Commission. However, the family’s power declined with his death. It is the Chicago Outfit which represents the L.A. Crime family at The Commission.

During the late 1970s, Aladena Fratianno ‘Jimmy the Weasel’ gave testimonies against the family, thus, becoming the second member in the history of American Mafia. Their activities shrunk with the passing of the RICO Act during the 1980s, thereby leaving its original power with just a fraction.

Current scenario

The L.A. crime family presently is much small, when other mafia families are taken into account. They are involved more into conspiracy, murder, gambling, fencing, skimming, racketeering, extortion, fraud, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, loan sharking as well as legitimate business. This family is considered to be the last one to be left in the California state.

Some aspects to know

The Los Angeles crime family’s founder and first boss was Joseph Ardizzone. It was in Los Angeles, California that this family is based. It has been active since 1900 and covers the territories of Las Vegas and Southern California. There are 10 made members, who are considered to be of Italian descent, while the associates employed are of other ethnicities. Their allies are the Five Families, Kansas City, Cleveland, Buffalo and Chicago crime families. The different street gangs of L.A. and Cohen crime family are their rivals.

Knowing about the origins of L.A. crime

The different Italian street gangs was said to rule the crime activities of California during the early 20th century like the Black Hand. Matranga family was the prominent among them, but had their power limited just to the Plaza community. But their feud with the Ardizzone’s faction saw their power to decline and eliminate. It was Vito Di Giorgio, who was the L.A. family’s first boss probably, to bring some control to the L.A. underworld.

Understanding all about Mafia history and its origins

The origin of the Mafia family is considered to be a disputed topic. There are several people who are of the belief that this group has originated during the medieval period. This group according to them was actually a secret society that was sworn to provide protection to the Sicilian people, who were then oppressed during the 15th century by Catalan marauders. But very little historical facts and evidence is present to suggest this. Legends involving the ‘Robin Hood’ might have associated with this group at that point of time. It is quite feasible that this group had existed as means for those honorable and righteous rebels, whose mission was to defend the Sicilians from the then oppressive Northern Italian and Roman control as well as external invasion by the barbarians. However, this theory has less importance with many modern scholars.

Formation of the mafia family

Several historians and experts are of the belief that this group had been formed during the later stage of Feudalism. The then aristocratic feudal lords, who lived generally in their big country mansions, had their land to be looked after and managed by their local managers known as the Gabelloti. These men were known to have compelled poor people to work for the estates, but offered them extremely poor wages. A possible method used by them was to have local intermediaries to be employed, presently regarded as the local mafia bosses. Many of the Gabelloti had become minor barons, however, few of the corrupted ones often had refused the post, to become well known Mafioso.

However, with Feudalism being abolished, it had become much more essential for the group to have the peasants intimidated for paying taxes to Barons and also had a share of it. However, the group did even represent the local tradesmen, farmers and common people’s will. Often they were paid-off by them for justice or settling scores that was to be obtained through maiming or killing someone. It is for this reason that misconception of the Mafioso being ‘Knights’ or ‘Robin Hood’ arose. From being ‘friend of friends’, they went on to become ‘men of honor’. The Sicilians’ clannish nature and dislike for oppressive hereditary aristocratic law enforcement, is said to have developed a favorable climate towards the formation of the mafia members and group. This group might not have been created by the nobility, however, unwillingly allowed creation of social conditions, facilitating their macabre growth.

Mafia family in the United States

The American Mafia is considered to be an American-Italian criminal society as well as the Sicilian Mafia’s offshoot. This group in the States is also popularly called Italian American gang or American Cosa Nostra. It was during the later part of the 19th century that its United States chapter began in the East Coast, especially with emigration of Sicilians and people from South Italy.

Reasons for the growth of Mafioso in the U.S.

Most of the Sicilians including other Italians living in horrible and below poverty conditions in their state were tired and treated by their government with contempt. With dreams of having a wonderful American life, they started to emigrate to the U.S. during the 1800s. However, it was in the early part of the 20th century that sudden increase was noticed among the Italians to emigrate to the United States. While majority of the Italians chose the path of an honest life to earn their living, few had plans to have Sicilian ways of gangs to be brought to this new place.

Introducing organized crime

Right from its inception, until today, the American Mafia is said to dominate the U.S. organized crime, maintaining a greater control over the regions of Providence, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, including the organized criminal activities in the city of New York and other cities along the North East and all over the country like New Orleans and Las Vegas. Mafia history of America had been etched in the popular American culture and portrayed in video games, books, TV shows, movies, etc. Mafia game Developers have tried to cash in on the growing craze among gamers to come up with variety of Mafioso related games for people of all ages.

In the metropolitan area of New York, New England, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia, the American-Italian Cosa Nostra is considered to be more active. The US currently ‘boasts’ of having about 26 mafia families and splinter groups located all over the United States.

The beginning

It was in the city of New York that the mafia members became first active. They started their operations from those poor Italian neighborhood ghettos and slowly progressed to city regions and later in international activities. It was with ‘The Black Hand’ or ‘La Mano Nera’ that American Mafioso started with, extorting Italians as well as other immigrants around the city of New York. Their activities until the 1920’s were largely limited, after which they expanded.

Mafia family and its structure

It is of different gangs or families that the regional Mafia family is made of. It is depending on the region that their numbers could range, which could be over 100 to a handful. Every family enjoyed dealing separate business and stayed out of the other’s way. Often, the business enterprises could come across that of the other to a huge extent, which depended entirely upon the nature of business and their proximity to one another.


It was an effective structure that this group had, which prevented the families’ higher ranked members to be held responsible for criminal enterprises undertaken. The judges were bribed and the lower ranked Mafioso’s records were cleaned and have him bailed out from jail. The group’s payroll also had some of the cops on their payroll, who were said to look the other way, in activities that were indulged by the group.

  • Every family had a leader called the Don or Boss. It was he who made all important decisions and was the gainer of all income made by the group. He is the ultimate decision maker and his authority is complete. He had full control over the mafia members.
  • The Underboss is next to the Don, who was second-in-command. However, his power varied with the families. He had enormous power in some cases, and in few less. Few of them were trained enough to succeed the Boss/Don, due to retirement or death.
  • The Consigliere was in between the Underboss and the Don, who acted as the latter’s advisor and made impartial decisions for the Mafia’s good, instead of relying on personal vendettas. Either the members of the group elect this position or the Don. The Consigliere may also act as the Don’s mouth and is respected immensely. However, he does not get involved directly with the Mafia’s criminal enterprises.
  • The Capos are next to the Underboss and their numbers vary with the Families and its group size. The Capo acts as captain or lieutenant, leading an own section. Specific activities are taken care by him and have to earn huge amounts.
  • Soldiers and made-men are guided by the Capo. They are actually the Family’s ultimate enforcers, who have to command respect from fellow Mafioso and prove their worth.
  • Associates are lower down the level. Although not being the Mafia’s actual members, they are those who get involved with criminal enterprises.

The group has become an interesting subject with mafia game developers and several games have been released which has went on to become a huge hit with the online and offline gaming mass.