The American Mafia,commonly referred to in North America as “the Mafia” or sometimes “the Mob”, or the Italian-American Mafia, is a highly organized Italian-American criminal society. The organization is often referred to by its members as Cosa Nostra (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkɔːza ˈnɔstra, ˈkɔːsa -], “our thing”) and by the government as La Cosa Nostra (LCN).
The organization’s name is derived from the original Mafia or Cosa nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, with “American Mafia” originally referring simply to Mafia groups from Sicily operating in America, as the organization originally emerged as an offshoot of the Sicilian Mafia; however, the organization eventually encompassed or absorbed other Italian-American gangsters and Italian crime groups (such as the American Camorra) living in the United States and Canada that were not of Sicilian origin.
It is often colloquially referred to as the Italian Mafia or Italian Mob, though these terms may also apply to the separate yet related Sicilian Mafia or other organized crime groups in Italy.
The Mafia in the United States emerged in impoverished Italian immigrant neighborhoods or ghettos in New York’s East Harlem (or Italian Harlem), the Lower East Side, and Brooklyn. It also emerged in other areas of the East Coast of the United States and several other major metropolitan areas (such as New Orleans and Chicago) during the late 19th century and early 20th century, following waves of Italian immigration especially from Sicily and other regions of Southern Italy.
It has its roots in the Sicilian Mafia but is a separate organization in the United States. Neapolitan, Calabrian, and other Italian criminal groups in the U.S., as well as independent Italian-American criminals, eventually merged with Sicilian Mafiosi to create the modern pan-Italian Mafia in North America. Today, the American Mafia cooperates in various criminal activities with Italian organized crime groups, such as the Sicilian Mafia, the Camorra of Naples, and the ‘Ndrangheta of Calabria.
The most important unit of the American Mafia is that of a “family,” as the various criminal organizations that make up the Mafia are known. Despite the name of “family” to describe the various units, they are not familial groupings.
The Mafia is currently most active in the northeastern United States, with the heaviest activity in New York City, and with a substantial presence in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Buffalo, and New England, in areas such as Boston, Providence and Hartford.
It is also highly active in Chicago and other large Midwestern cities such as Kansas City, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and St. Louis, a smaller presence in places such as New Orleans, Florida, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and with smaller families, associates, and crews in other parts of the country.
At the Mafia’s peak, there were at least 26 cities around the United States with Cosa Nostra families, with many more offshoots and associates in other cities. There are five main New York City Mafia families, known as the Five Families: the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno, and Colombo families.
At its peak, the American Mafia dominated organized crime in the United States. Each crime family has its own territory (except for the Five Families) and operates independently, while nationwide coordination is overseen by the Commission, which consists of the bosses of each of the strongest families.
Genoese crime family
Maranzano reorganized the Italian American gangs in New York City into the Maranzano, Profaci, Mangano, Luciano, and Gagliano families, which are now known as the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchesefamilies. Each family had a demarcated territory, an organizationally structured hierarchy, and reported up to the same overarching governing entity. Initially, Maranzano intended each family’s boss to report to him as the capo di tutti i capi (“boss of all bosses”). However, this led to his assassination that September, and that role was abolished for The Commission, a ruling committee established by Lucky Luciano to oversee all Mafia activities in the United States and serve to mediate conflicts between families, consisting of the bosses of the Five Families, as well as the bosses of the Chicago Outfit and the Buffalo crime family. In 1963, Joseph Valachi publicly disclosed the existence of New York City’s Five Families at the Valachi hearings. Since then, a few other crime families have been able to become powerful or notable enough to rise to a level comparable or close to that of the Five Families, holding or sharing the unofficial designation of Sixth Family.
Today, most of the Mafia’s activities are contained to the northeastern United States and Chicago, where they continue to dominate organized crime, despite the increasing numbers of other crime groups. wiki