Crime Families - American Mafia Crime Families - North America

North America

There are many crime families that make up the American Mafia, ranging from giant powers with international influence like the Outfit and the Five Families of New York to small groups with only about 30–50 made members.

  • Chicago is the home of the Chicago Outfit, the direct descendant of the Prohibition-era gang run by iconic crime boss Al Capone. The most powerful Mafia family outside of New York, the Outfit also controls rackets throughout much of the Midwest, and once controlled many of the most prominent casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada, although its power there (like the rest of the Mafia's) has waned in recent decades. Unlike other Mafia families, the Outfit has been noted as very ethnically diverse in its leadership, with such non-Italian individuals as Jake Guzik, Gus Alex, and Murray Humphreys rising to positions of authority within it.

The Chicago Outfit, too, has been the subject of numerous portrayals in pop culture, including the TV show The Untouchables, its Academy Award-winning film adaptation, and the films Casino, Scarface, and Road to Perdition.

  • New York has five families. These families, together with several powerful members of Jewish-American organized crime, established the Commission in the 1930s, which decided on the rules for the entire American Mafia. This ruling board was established shortly after the end of the bloodiest war in the history of the New York Mafia, the Castellammarese War. One of its most famous founders was Lucky Luciano, who became the most powerful member of the Commission after arranging the murders of Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, the two belligerents in the Castellammarese War. Although the media often attempts to anoint one boss of one of the Five Families as capo di tutti capi ("boss of all bosses") of the American Mafia, in reality the position does not really exist. The only individual believed to have ever been in a position to actually claim the title was Maranzano.
The Five Families are:
  • The Bonanno crime family
  • The Colombo crime family
  • The Gambino crime family
  • The Genovese crime family
  • The Lucchese crime family

Over the years, the New York Mafia has been the focus of many of the more prominent pop culture representations of the Mafia. Such films as Goodfellas, The Godfather trilogy, Donnie Brasco, and Little Caesar have been set in New York.

  • Buffalo is the home of the Buffalo crime family, also known as "The Arm", which has seen its fortunes wane considerably in recent years. Originally recognized when it was led by Stefano Magaddino, a cousin to Joseph Bonanno, the family has now been removed from the Commission and is no longer considered to hold undisputed status as master of the Upstate New York rackets.
  • Florida is the home of the Trafficante crime family, a small family named for its two most notable former bosses, Santo Trafficante, Sr. and Santo Trafficante, Jr. Although once a major power in the national Mafia (especially in their operations in pre-Castro Cuba), the Trafficante family now operates on a much lesser level, mostly in extortion, numbers, loan sharking, and drug trafficking. It holds most of its influence in Tampa and Miami, the latter of which is now considered an "open territory" by the Mafia at large.
  • New England is the domain of the Patriarca crime family, which is based in Boston and named after its longest-serving leader, Raymond L.S. Patriarca. Although once the undisputed master of organized crime in New England, the family was significantly diminished during the 1970s and 1980s by the defection of prominent associate Vincent Teresa, who became a government informant, and the rising power of the Irish Mob, particularly the Winter Hill Gang under the infamous James "Whitey" Bulger. Today, although smaller and somewhat less influential than in the past, the Patriarca family is still one of the most prominent American crime families.
  • New Jersey has the smaller and less powerful DeCavalcante crime family, which mostly holds control over turf in North Jersey, such as Hudson County and Newark. Although not as powerful as other families, the DeCavalcante family is noted for inspiring the fictional crime family portrayed in the most popular pop culture portrayal of the mob in recent years, the HBO TV series The Sopranos.
  • New Orleans is the home of the New Orleans crime family. Its most notable (and longest serving) leader was Carlos Marcello, who is perhaps most famous for his role in Operation Mongoose, the CIA plot to assassinate Castro, and his prominent placement in many Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories. Since Marcello's death in 1993, the family has receded into the shadows, and its relative power, both in New Orleans and nationally, is a topic of debate.
  • Philadelphia is the home base of the Philadelphia crime family, which also has interests in much of South Jersey, especially Atlantic City, Camden, and Trenton. Although long known as one of the least violent crime families, it was wracked by a bloody civil war after the 1980 assassination of longtime boss Angelo Bruno, allegedly killed for his attempts to keep the lucrative Atlantic City rackets from other families after the legalization of casino gambling there. Although Atlantic City mobster Nicodemo Scarfo would eventually win the war and become boss of the family, he was convicted under the RICO Act in 1989 and sentenced to 60 years in prison, leading to yet another civil war. After reputed boss Joseph Merlino was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2001, the family has reportedly been returning to its tradition of quieter, more low-key operations.
  • There are Mafia crime families of varying degrees of prominence in numerous other North American cities, including the Cleveland crime family, the Detroit Partnership, and the Los Angeles crime family.

Read more about this topic:  Crime Families, American Mafia Crime Families

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