The Mafia (also known as "Cosa Nostra") is a Sicilian criminal society which is believed to have emerged in late 19th century Sicily, and the first such society to be referred to as a mafia (although it is not the first organized criminal society to appear in Italy). It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct. Each group, known as a "family", "clan" or "cosca", claims sovereignty over a territory in which it operates its rackets – usually a town or village or a part of a larger city.

Offshoots of the Mafia emerged in the United States, Canada, and in Australia[1] during the late 19th century following waves of Italian emigration (see Italian-American Mafia). However, outside Italy the term "Mafia" is also employed to name any organization operating under a similar structure, whether Sicilian or not; such as the Camorra, the 'Ndrangheta or the Sacra Corona Unita, as well as foreign organized groups such as the Russian Mafia and the Cuban Mafia. �

Contents [hide]*1 Etymology*2 "Cosa Nostra" and other names*3 Structure and composition


There are several theories about the origin of the term "Mafia" (sometimes spelled "Maffia" in early texts). The Sicilian adjective mafiusu may derive from the slang Arabic mahyas (مهياص), meaning "aggressive boasting, bragging", or marfud مرفوض meaning "rejected". Roughly translated, it means "swagger", but can also be translated as "boldness, bravado". In reference to a man, mafiusu in 19th century Sicily was ambiguous, signifying a bully, arrogant but also fearless, enterprising, and proud, according to scholar Diego Gambetta.[2] In reference to a woman, however, the adjective "mafiusa" means beautiful and attractive.

The public's association of the word with the criminal secret society was perhaps inspired by the 1863 play "I mafiusi di la Vicaria" ("The Mafiosi of the Vicaria") by Giuseppe Rizzotto and Gaetano Mosca. The words Mafia and mafiusi are never mentioned in the play; they were probably put in the title to add a local flair. The play is about a Palermo prison gang with traits similar to the Mafia: a boss, an initiation ritual, and talk of "umirtà" (omertà or code of silence) and "pizzu" (a codeword for extortion money).[3] The play had great success throughout Italy. Soon after, the use of the term "mafia" began appearing in the Italian state's early reports on the phenomenon. The word made its first official appearance in 1865 in a report by the prefect of Palermo, Filippo Antonio Gualterio.[4]

Leopoldo Franchetti, an Italian deputy who travelled to Sicily and who wrote one of the first authoritative reports on the mafia in 1876, saw the Mafia as an "industry of violence" and described the designation of the term "mafia":

"the term mafia found a class of violent criminals ready and waiting for a name to define them, and, given their special character and importance in Sicilian society, they had the right to a different name from that defining vulgar criminals in other countries."[5]

Franchetti saw the Mafia as deeply rooted in Sicilian society and impossible to quench unless the very structure of the island's social institutions were to undergo a fundamental change.[6]

Some observers have seen "mafia" as a set of attributes deeply rooted in popular culture, as a "way of being", as illustrated in the definition by the Sicilian ethnographer, Giuseppe Pitrè, at the end of the 19th century:

"Mafia is the consciousness of one's own worth, the exaggerated concept of individual force as the sole arbiter of every conflict, of every clash of interests or ideas."[7]

According to urban legend, the word Mafia was first used in the Sicilian revolt – the Sicilian Vespers – against rule of the Capetian House of Anjou on 30 March 1282. Mafia is the acronym for "Morte alla Francia, Italia anela" (Italian for "Death to France, Italy cries!").[8] However, this version is discarded by most serious historians nowadays.

"Cosa Nostra" and other namesEdit

The Sicilian Mafia has no formal name, as members see no need for one. Nonetheless, in many Italian publications the term "Cosa Nostra" is used to distinguish the Sicilian Mafia from other criminal networks that are also sometimes referred to as "mafias" (such as the Camorra, the "Neapolitan Mafia").

When the American mafioso Joseph Valachi testified before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations in 1962, he revealed that American mafiosi referred to their organization by the term cosa nostra ("our thing" or "this thing of ours").[9][10][11] At the time, it was understood as a proper name, fostered by the FBI and disseminated by the media. The designation gained wide popularity and almost replaced the term Mafia. The FBI even added the article to the term, calling it La Cosa Nostra (in Italy this article is not used when referring to the Sicilian Mafia).

Italian investigators did not take the term seriously, believing it was only used by the American Mafia. In 1984, the Mafia turncoat Tommaso Buscetta revealed to the anti-mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone that the term was used by the Sicilian Mafia as well.[12] Buscetta dismissed the word "mafia" as a mere literary creation. Other defectors, such as Antonio Calderone and Salvatore Contorno, confirmed the use of Cosa Nostra to describe the Mafia.[13] Mafiosi introduce known members to each other as belonging to cosa nostra ("our thing") or la stessa cosa ("the same thing"), e.g. "he is the same thing, a mafioso, as you".

The Sicilian Mafia has used other names to describe itself throughout its history, such as "The Honoured Society". Mafiosi are known among themselves as "men of honour" or "men of respect".

Structure and compositionEdit

Cosa Nostra is not a monolithic organization, but rather a loose association of groups known alternately as "families", "coscas", "borgatas" or "clans". Today, Cosa Nostra is estimated to have about 100 clans, with a total of at least 3,500 to 4,000 full members.[14] Most are based in western Sicily, almost half of them in the province of Palermo,[12]

Clan hierarchyEdit

[1][2]Hierarchy of a Cosa Nostra clan.In 1984, the mafioso informant Tommaso Buscetta explained to prosecutors the pyramidal command structure of a typical clan.[12] A clan is led by a "boss" (capofamiglia), who is aided by a second-in-command (a sotto capo or "underboss") and one or more advisers (consigliere). Under his command are crews of about 10 "soldiers", each led by a capodecina (or sometimes caporegime).

Other than its members, Cosa Nostra makes extensive use of "associates". These are people who work for or aid a clan (or even multiple clans) but are not treated as true members. These include corrupt officials and prospective mafiosi. An associate is considered nothing more than a tool; "nothing mixed with nil."[12]

The most powerful boss is often referred to as the capo di tutti capi ("boss of all bosses"), who allegedly commands all the clans of Cosa Nostra. Calogero Vizzini, Salvatore Riina, and Bernardo Provenzano were especially influential bosses that have each been described by the media and law enforcement as being the "boss of bosses" of their times. However, such a position does not formally exist, according to Mafia turncoats such as Buscetta.[15][16]


Traditionally, only Sicilian men can become mafiosi, though in recent times there have been reports of women assuming the responsibilities of imprisoned mafioso relatives.[17][18][19]

Membership and rank in the Mafia are not hereditary. Most new bosses are not related to their predecessor. The Commission forbids relatives from holding positions in inter-clan bodies at the same time.[20]

A mafioso's legitimate occupation, if he has any, generally does not affect his prestige within Cosa Nostra.[21] Historically, most mafiosi were employed in menial jobs, and many bosses did not work at all,[21] but in recent times professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been found among them.[22]

A prospective mafioso is carefully tested for obedience, discretion and ruthlessness. He is almost always required to commit murder as his ultimate trial.[12]


For many years, the power apparatuses of the individual clans were the sole ruling bodies within the association, and they have remained the real centers of power even after superordinate bodies were created in Cosa Nostra beginning in the late 1950s (the Sicilian Mafia Commission also known as Commissione or Cupola).[23]

The Commission is a body of leading Cosa Nostra members who decide on important questions concerning the actions of, and settling disputes within the organization. It is composed of representatives of a mandamento (a "district" of three geographically contiguous Mafia families) that are called capo mandamento or rappresentante. The Commission is not a central government of the Mafia, but a representative mechanism for consultation of independent families who decide by consensus. "Contrary to the wide-spread image presented by the media, these superordinate bodies of coordination cannot be compared with the executive boards of major legal firms. Their power is intentionally limited. And it would be entirely wrong to see in the Cosa Nostra a centrally managed, internationally active Mafia holding company," according to criminologist Letizia Paoli.[24]

The jurisdiction extends over a province; each province of Sicily has some kind of a Commission, except Messina, Siracusa and Ragusa. Beyond the provincial level, details are vague. According to Buscetta, a commissione interprovinciale – interprovincial commission – was set up in the 1970s, while Calderone claims that there had been a rappresentante regionale in the 1950s even before the Commissions and the capi mandamento were created.[25]

Rituals and codes of conductEdit

Initiation ceremonyEdit

After his arrest, the mafioso Giovanni Brusca described the ceremony in which he was formally made a full member of Cosa Nostra. In 1976 he was invited to a "banquet" at a country house. He was brought into a room where several mafiosi were sitting around a table upon which sat a pistol, a dagger and an image of a saint. They questioned his commitment and his feelings regarding criminality and murder (despite his already having a history of such acts). When he affirmed himself, Salvatore Riina, then the most powerful boss of Cosa Nostra, took a needle and pricked Brusca's finger. Brusca smeared his blood on the image of the saint, which he held in his cupped hands as Riina set it alight. As Brusca juggled the burning image in his hands, Riina said to him: "If you betray Cosa Nostra, your flesh will burn like this saint."[12]


A mafioso is not supposed to introduce himself to another mafioso. If he wants to establish a relationship, he must ask a third, mutually-known mafioso, to introduce them to each other. This intermediary can vouch that neither of the two is an impostor. This tradition is upheld very scrupulously: when the mafioso Indelicato Amedeo returned to Sicily following his initiation in America, he could not introduce himself to his own mafioso father, but had to wait for an intermediary from America who knew of his induction to come to Sicily.[26]

Ten CommandmentsEdit

In November 2007 Sicilian police reported to have found a list of "Ten Commandments" in the hideout of mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo. They are thought to be guidelines on how to be a good, respectful and honourable mafioso.[27]

  1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
  2. Never look at the wives of friends.
  3. Never be seen with cops.
  4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
  5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife is about to give birth.
  6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
  7. Wives must be treated with respect.
  8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
  9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
  10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.

Omertà: the code of silenceEdit

Omertà is a code of silence that forbids mafiosi from betraying their comrades to the authorities. The penalty for transgression is death, and relatives of the turncoat may also be murdered. To a degree, Cosa Nostra also imposes this code on the general population, persecuting any citizen who aids the authorities.

Criminal activitiesEdit

Protection racketsEdit

It is estimated that the Sicilian Mafia costs the Sicilian economy more than €10 billion a year through protection rackets.[28] Roughly 80% of Sicilian businesses pay protection money to Cosa Nostra. Monthly payments can range from €200 for a small shop or bar to €5,000 for a supermarket.[29][30][31] Targets who refuse to buy protection are usually harassed, often through property damage; physical assault is rare.[32] In Sicily, protection money is known as pizzo; the anti-extortion support group Addiopizzo derives its name from this.

Protection from theft is one service that the Mafia provides to paying "clients". Mafiosi are generally forbidden from comitting theft.[33] Instead, mafiosi make it their business to know all the thieves and fences operating within their territory. If a protected business is robbed, the clan will use these contacts to track down and return the stolen goods and punish the thieves. Thieves are usually not forced to give a cut of their takings, as the money involved in small thefts is not worth the trouble.[34]

Drug traffickingEdit

Sicily is a major hub in the international drugs trade.[35] In 2003, the Sicilian Mafia is estimated to have made over €8 billion through drug trafficking.[citation needed]

Arms traffickingEdit

In 2003, the Sicilian Mafia is estimated to have made a turn over of €1.5 billion through weapons trafficking.[36]

Loan sharkingEdit

In a 2007 publication, the Italian small-business association Confesercenti reported that about 25.2% of Sicilian businesses are indebted to loan sharks, who collect around €1.4 billion a year in payments.[37]

Control of contractingEdit

The Sicilian Mafia in Italy is believed to have a turn-over of €6.5 billion through control of public and private contracts.[38] Mafiosi use threats of violence and vandalism to muscle out competitors and win contracts for the companies they control.[21] They rarely manage the businesses they control themselves, but take a cut of their profits, usually through payoffs (pizzo).[39]

Forbidden crimesEdit

Certain types of crimes are forbidden by Cosa Nostra, either by members or freelance criminals within their domains. Mafiosi are generally forbidden from committing theft (burglary, mugging, etc). Kidnapping is also generally forbidden, even by non-members, as it attracts a great deal of public hostility and police attention. These rules have been violated from time to time, both with and without the permission of senior mafiosi.[40]


Post-feudal SicilyEdit

The genesis of Cosa Nostra is hard to trace because of its secretive nature and lack of historical record-keeping. It is widely believed that its seeds were planted in the upheaval of Sicily's transition from feudalism to capitalism in 1812 and its later annexation by mainland Italy in 1860. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies couldn't fully enforce law and order, and many groups, from bandits to artisan guilds, used violence to plunder or settle disputes.

In 1864, Niccolò Turrisi Colonna, leader of the Palermo National Guard, wrote of a "sect of thieves" that operated across Sicily. This "sect" had special signals to recognize each other, had political protection in many regions, and a code of loyalty and non-interaction with the police known as umirtà ("humility").[41] The sect was mostly rural, comprising plantation wardens and smugglers, among others.[42] Colonna warned in his report that the Italian government's brutal attempts to crush unlawfulness only made the problem worse by alienating the populace. An 1865 dispatch from the prefect of Palermo to Rome first officially described the phenomenon as a "Mafia".[4][43]

Much of the Mafia's early activity centered around the lucrative citrus export industry around Palermo, whose fragile production system made it quite vulnerable to extortion. What is probably the earliest detailed account of Mafia activity comes from the memoirs of a citrus plantation owner named Gaspare Galati in the 1870s. After firing his warden for stealing coal and produce, Galati received threatening letters demanding that he rehire this "man of honour". Two successive replacements he hired were shot by hitmen, but the police failed to find any evidence implicating the "man of honour". Galati's own inquiries led him to believe the "man of honour" was part of a group known as a cosca, based in a nearby village and led by a local landowner and former revolutionary. Many such groups existed that disrupted citrus plantations to either extort money or buy them at low prices. Worse still, these groups appeared to have allies in the police and local government. Galati gave up and fled home to Naples.[44]

The accounts of Galati and others alarmed politicians in Rome. One described the Mafia as "an instrument of local government", given its level of collusion with Sicilian officials.[45] Throughout the late 1870s, the government ordered numerous authoritarian crackdowns in which entire towns were encircled and suspects deported en masse. The crackdowns failed, however, to deal with the political corruption, and many well-connected mafiosi escaped the dragnet.[12]

Mafiosi meddled in politics early on, bullying voters into voting for candidates they favoured. At this period in history, only a small fraction of the Sicilian population could vote, so a single mafia boss could control a sizeable chunk of the electorate and thus wield considerable political leverage.[46] Mafiosi used their allies in government to avoid prosecution as well as persecute less well-connected rivals. The highly fragmented and shaky Italian political system allow cliques of Mafia-friendly politicians to exert a lot of influence.[12]

In an 1898 report to prosecutors, the police chief of Palermo identified eight Mafia clans operating in the suburbs and villages near the city. The report mentioned initiation rituals and codes of conduct, as well as criminal activities that included counterfeiting, ransom kidnappings, robbery, murder and witness intimidation. The Mafia also maintained funds to support the families of imprisoned members and pay defense lawyers.[12]

Fascist suppressionEdit

In the 1920s, Benito Mussolini initiated a campaign to destroy the Mafia and its political allies. In doing so, he would suppress many political opponents on the island and score a great propaganda coup for Fascism. In October 1925, he appointed Cesare Mori prefect of Palermo and gave him special powers to attack the Mafia. Like previous crackdowns, it involved massive round-ups of suspected criminals; over 11,000 arrests were made over the course of the campaign.[12] Wives and children of mafiosi were sometimes taken hostage to force their surrender. Many were tried in en masse.[47][48] More than 1,200 were convicted and imprisoned,[49] and many others were internally exiled without trial.[50]

Mori's campaign ended in June 1929 when Mussolini recalled him to Rome. Although he did not totally crush the Mafia as the Fascist press proclaimed, his campaign was nonetheless very successful. In 1986, the mafioso defector Antonino Calderone said of the period: The music changed. Mafiosi had a hard life. [...] After the war the mafia hardly existed anymore. The Sicilian Families had all been broken up.[50]Antonio Calderone, 1986Many mafiosi fled to the United States. Among these were Carlo Gambino and Joseph Bonanno, who would go on to become powerful Mafia bosses in New York City.

Post-Fascist RevivalEdit

In 1943, nearly half a million Allied troops invaded Sicily; the crime rate soared in the upheaval and chaos. Many inmates escaped from their prisons, banditry returned and the black market thrived.[12] During the first six months of Allied occupation, party politics in Sicily was banned.[51] As Fascist mayors were deposed, the Allies simply appointed replacements. Many turned out to be mafiosi, such as Calogero Vizzini and Giuseppe Genco Russo.[52][53] They could easily present themselves as political dissidents,[54] and their anti-communist position made them further desirable.

The changing economic landscape of Sicily would shift the Mafia's power base from the rural to the urban. The Minister of Agriculture – a communist – pushed for reforms in which peasants were to get larger shares of produce, be allowed to form cooperatives and take over badly used land, and remove the system by which leaseholders (known as "gabelloti") could rent land from landowners for their own short-term use.[55] Owners of especially large estates were to be forced to sell off their excess land. The Mafia, which had connections to many landowners, murdered many socialist reformers. In the end, though, they couldn't stop the process, and many landowners chose to sell their land to mafiosi, who offered more money than the government.[56]

After the war, the Italian government poured public money into rebuilding Sicily, leading to a big construction boom. In 1956, two Mafia-connected officials, Vito Ciancimino and Salvatore Lima, took control of Palermo's Office of Public Works. Between 1959 and 1963, about 80% of building permits were given to just five people, none of whom represented major construction firms and were probably Mafia frontmen.[57] Construction companies unconnected with the Mafia were forced to pay protection money. Many buildings were illegally constructed before the city's planning was finalized. In 1982, the antimafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone noted: Mafia organizations entirely control the building sector in Palermo – the quarries where aggregates are mined, site clearance firms, cement plants, metal depots for the construction industry, wholesalers for sanitary fixtures, and so on.[58]Giovanni Falcone, 1982In the 1950s, a crackdown in the United States on drug trafficking led to the imprisonment of many American mafiosi. Furthermore, Cuba, a major hub for drug smuggling, fell to Fidel Castro. This prompted the American mafia boss Joseph Bonanno to return to Sicily in 1957 to franchise out his heroin operations to the Sicilian clans. Anticipating rivalries for the lucrative American drug market, he negotiated the establishment of a Sicilian Mafia Commission to mediate disputes.[59]

First Mafia WarEdit

Main article: Ciaculli massacreThe First Mafia War was the first high-profile conflict between Mafia clans in post-war Italy (the Sicilian Mafia has a long history of violent rivalries).

In December 1962 some heroin went missing from a shipment to America. When the Sicilian Mafia Commission could not decide who was to blame, one of the clans involved – the La Barbera clan – took matters into its own hands. They murdered a mafioso from the Greco clan whom they suspected of stealing the heroin, triggering a war in which many non-mafiosi would be killed in the crossfire.[60] In April 1963, several bystanders were wounded during a shootout in Palermo.[61] In May, Angelo La Barbera survived a murder attempt in Milan. In June, six military officers and a policeman in Ciaculli were killed while trying to dispose of a car bomb.

The fact that the conflict spread outside Sicily and claimed innocent lives provoked national outrage and a crackdown in which nearly 2,000 arrests were made. Mafia activity fell as clans disbanded and mafiosi went into hiding. The Commission was dissolved; it would not reform until 1969.[62] 117 suspects were put on trial in 1968, but most were acquitted or received light sentences.[63]

Heroin BoomEdit

When heroin refineries operated by the Corsican Mafia in Marseilles were shut down by French authorities, morphine traffickers looked to Sicily. Starting in 1975, Cosa Nostra set up heroin refineries across the island.[64] As well as refining heroin, Cosa Nostra also sought to control its distribution. Sicilian mafiosi moved to the United States to personally control distribution networks there, often at the expense of their U.S. counterparts. Heroin addiction in Europe and North America surged, and seizures by police increased dramatically. By 1982, the Sicilian Mafia controlled about 80% of the heroin trade in the north-eastern United States.[65] Heroin was often distributed to street dealers from Mafia-owned pizzerias, and the revenues could be passed off as restaurant profits (the so-called Pizza Connection). Through the heroin trade, Cosa Nostra became wealthier and more powerful than ever.

Second Mafia WarEdit

Main article: Second Mafia WarIn the early 1970s, Luciano Leggio, boss of the Corleone clan and member of the Sicilian Mafia Commission, forged a coalition of mafia clans known as the Corleonesi, with himself as its leader. He initiated a campaign to dominate Cosa Nostra and its narcotics trade. Because Leggio was imprisoned in 1974, he acted through his deputy, Salvatore Riina, to whom he would eventually hand over control. The Corleonesi bribed cash-strapped Palermo clans into the fold, subverted members of other clans and secretly recruited new members.[66] In 1977, the Corleonesi had Gaetano Badalamenti expelled from the Commission on trumped-up charges of hiding drug revenues.[67] In April 1981, the Corleonesi murdered another member of the Commission, Stefano Bontate, and the Second Mafia War began in earnest.[68] Hundreds of enemy mafiosi and their relatives were murdered,[69] sometimes by traitors in their own clans. In the end, the Corleonesi faction won and Riina effectively became the "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Mafia.

At the same time the Corleonesi waged their campaign to dominate Cosa Nostra, they also waged a campaign of murder against journalists, officials and policemen who dared cross them. The police were frustrated with the lack of help they were receiving from witnesses and politicians. At the funeral of a policeman murdered by mafiosi in 1985, policemen insulted and spat at two attending statesmen, and a fight broke out between them and military police.[70]

Maxi trial and war against the governmentEdit

In the early 1980s, the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino began a campaign against Cosa Nostra. Their big break came with the arrest of Tommaso Buscetta, a mafioso who chose to turn informant in exchange for protection from the Corleonesi, who had already murdered many of his friends and relatives. Other mafiosi followed his example. Falcone and Borsellino compiled their testimonies and organized the Maxi Trial, which lasted from February 1986 to December 1987. It was held in a fortified courthouse specially built for the occasion. 474 mafiosi were put on trial, of which 342 were convicted. In January 1992 the Italian Supreme Court confirmed these convictions.

The Mafia retaliated violently. In 1988, they murdered a Palermo judge and his son; three years later a prosecutor and an anti-mafia businessman were also murdered. Salvatore Lima, a close political ally of the Mafia, was murdered for failing to reverse the convictions as promised. Falcone and Borsellino were killed by bombs in 1992. This led to a public outcry and a massive government crackdown, resulting in the arrest of Cosa Nostra's "boss of bosses", Salvatore Riina, in January 1993. More and more defectors emerged. Many would pay a high price for their cooperation, usually through the murder of relatives. For example, Francesco Marino Mannoia's mother, aunt and sister were murdered.[71]

After Riina's arrest, the Mafia began a campaign of terrorism on the Italian mainland. Tourist spots such as the Via dei Georgofili in Florence, Via Palestro in Milan, and the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and Via San Teodoro in Rome were attacked, leaving 10 dead and 93 injured and causing severe damage to cultural heritage such as the Uffizi Gallery. When the Catholic Church openly condemned the Mafia, two churches were bombed and an antimafia priest shot dead in Rome.[72]

After Riina's capture, leadership of the Mafia was briefly held by Leoluca Bagarella, then passed to Bernardo Provenzano when the former was himself captured in 1995.[73] Provenzano halted the campaign of violence and replaced it with a campaign of quietness known as pax mafiosi.

The Provenzano yearsEdit

Under Bernardo Provenzano's leadership, murders of state officials were halted. He also halted the policy of murdering informants and their families, with a view instead to getting them to retract their testimonies and return to the fold.[74] He also restored the common support fund for imprisoned mafiosi.

The tide of defectors was greatly stemmed. The Mafia preferred to initiate relatives of existing mafiosi, believing them to be less prone to defection.

Provenzano was arrested in 2006, after 43 years on the run.

The modern Mafia in ItalyEdit

The incarcerated bosses are currently subjected to harsh controls on their contact with the outside world, limiting their ability to run their operations from behind bars under the article 41-bis prison regime. Antonino Giuffrè – a close confidant of Provenzano, turned pentito shortly after his capture in 2002 – alleges that in 1993 Cosa Nostra had direct contact with representatives of Silvio Berlusconi who was then planning the birth of Forza Italia.[75][76][77]

The alleged deal included a repeal of 41 bis, among other anti-Mafia laws in return for electoral support in Sicily. Nevertheless, Giuffrè's declarations have not yet been confirmed. The Italian Parliament, with the full support of Forza Italia reinforced the provisions of the 41 bis, which was to expire in 2002 but has been prolonged for another four years and extended to other crimes such as terrorism. However, according to one of Italy’s leading magazines, L'Espresso, 119 mafiosi – one-fifth of those incarcerated under the 41 bis regime – have been released on an individual basis.[78] The human rights group Amnesty International has expressed concern that the 41-bis regime could in some circumstances amount to "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment" for prisoners.[citation needed]

In addition to Salvatore Lima, mentioned above, the politician Giulio Andreotti and the High Court judge Corrado Carnevale have long been suspected of having ties to the Mafia.[who?]

By the late 1990s, the weakened Cosa Nostra had to yield most of the illegal drug trade to the 'Ndrangheta crime organization from Calabria.[citation needed] In 2006, the latter was estimated to control 80% of the cocaine import to Europe.[79]

Prominent Sicilian mafiosiEdit

See also: List of Sicilian mafiosi*Vito Cascio Ferro Prominent early Don, imprisoned by Cesare Mori.

The American Mafia (or simply the Mafia in the United States), also known as cosa nostra or La Cosa Nostra (LCN), which in Italian means Our Thing or This Thing of Ours, is an Italian-American criminal society and offshoot of the Sicilian Mafia. Much like the Sicilian Mafia, the American Mafia had no formal name and is a secret criminal society. The press has also coined the name "National Crime Syndicate" to refer to the entirety of U.S. organized crime, including the Mafia.

The Italian-American Mafia emerged in New York's Lower East Side and other areas of the East Coast of the United States during the late 19th century following waves of Sicilian and Italian immigration. It has its roots in the Sicilian Mafia, but has been a separate organization in the United States for many years. Neapolitan, Calabrian, and other Southern Italian criminal groups merged with the Sicilian Mafia to create the modern pan-Italian Mafia in North America. Today, the Italian-American Mafia cooperates in various criminal activities with the Sicilian Mafia and other Italian organized crime groups, such as Camorra and 'Ndrangheta.

According to the FBI investigations and the testimony of former members, there are thought to be five main New York City Mafia families: the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno and Colombo families. The Italian-American Mafia continues to dominate organized crime in the U.S. It uses this status to maintain control over much of Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Providence, New Jersey, and New York City's organized criminal activity, as well as criminal activity in other cities in the Northeastern United States and across the country, such as Las Vegas, New Orleans, Phoenix, St. Louis, Miami, Kansas City and many others.

In 1986, according to government reports[citation needed], it was estimated that there were 500 members of Cosa Nostra and thousands of associate members. Reports also are said to include the Italian-American Mafia as the largest organized crime group in the United States and continues to hold dominance over the National Crime Syndicate, despite the increasing numbers of street gangs and other organizations of neither Italian nor Sicilian ethnicity. Many members refer to the Italian Mafia as the "original Mafia".

While each crime family operates independently, nationwide coordination is provided by the Commission, which usually consist of the bosses of each major family.

Although the Italian-American Cosa Nostra is most active in the New York metropolitan area, Philadelphia, New England, Detroit and Chicago, but there are at least 26 cities around the United States with Cosa Nostra families, with many more offshoots, splinter groups and associates in other cities.[1]

There have been times when crime families had gone to war with each other including the Mafia-Camorra War and the Castellammarese War. Before the Outfit took control of Chicago, they were constantly battling other gangs, most notably the North Side Mob, during the prohibition era, eventually leading to the notorious St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Another war was between Joe Profaci and "Crazy" Joe Gallo. An internal war within a family occurred with the Bonanno Family dubbed "The Banana War".

Contents [hide]*1 Usage of the term "Mafia"*2 History**2.1 Origins: The Black Hand

Usage of the term "Mafia"Edit

Mafia properly refers to a number of Italian criminal organizations, particularly the Sicilian Mafia and the American Mafia. When referring to the Mafia, there may be several meanings, including a local area's Italian organized crime element, the Mafia family of a major city, the entire Italian-American Mafia of the United States, or the original Sicilian Mafia. Widespread recognition of the word has led to its use in the names of other criminal organizations, such as "Russian Mafia" or "Jewish Mafia", as well as non-criminal organizations, such as the term "Irish Mafia", applied to John F. Kennedy's political team.


Origins: The Black HandEdit

Main article: Black Hand (extortion)Mafia groups in the United States first became influential in the New York City area, gradually progressing from small neighborhood operations in poor Italian ghettos to citywide and eventually international organizations. The Black Hand was a name given to an extortion method used in Italian neighborhoods at the turn of the last century. It has been sometimes mistaken for the Mafia, which it is not. Giuseppe Esposito was the first known Sicilian Mafia member to emigrate to the United States. He and six other Sicilians fled to New York after murdering eleven wealthy landowners, and the chancellor and a vice chancellor of a Sicilian province. He was arrested in New Orleans in 1881 and extradited to Italy.

New Orleans was also the site of the first Mafia incident in the United States that received both national and international attention. On October 15, 1890, New Orleans Police Superintendent David Hennessy was murdered execution-style. It is still unclear whether Italian immigrants actually killed him or whether it was a frame-up against the reviled underclass immigrants. Hundreds of Sicilians were arrested on mostly baseless charges, and nineteen were eventually indicted for the murder. An acquittal followed, with rumors of bribed and intimidated witnesses. The outraged citizens of New Orleans organized a lynch mob after the aquital, and proceeded to kill eleven of the nineteen defendants. Two were hanged, nine were shot, and the remaining eight escaped. The lynching was the largest mass lynching in American history.[2]

From the 1890s to the 1900s in New York City, the Sicilian Mafia developed into the Five Points Gang and were very powerful in the Little Italy of the Lower East Side. They were often in conflict with the Jewish Eastmans of the same area. There was also an influencial Mafia family in East Harlem. The Neapolitan Camorra was very active in Brooklyn, too.

In Chicago, the 19th Ward, which was an Italian neighborhood, became known as the "Bloody Nineteenth" due to the frequent violence in the ward, mostly as a result of Mafia activity, feuds, and vendettas.

The rising: ProhibitionEdit

Mafia activities were restricted until 1920, when they exploded because of the introduction of Prohibition. An example of the spectacular rise of the Mafia due to Prohibition is Al Capone's syndicate that "ruled" Chicago in the 1920s.[3]

In New York City, by the end of the 1920s, two factions of organized crime had emerged, causing the Castellammarese War for control of organized crime in the city. With the murder of Joseph Masseria, the leader of one of the factions, the war ended uniting the two sides back into one organization now dubbed Cosa Nostra. Salvatore Maranzano, the first leader of American Mafia, was himself murdered within six months, and Charles "Lucky" Luciano became the new leader. Maranzano had established the code of conduct for the organization, set up the "family" divisions and structure, and established procedures for resolving disputes. Luciano set up the "Commission" to rule their activities. The Commission included bosses from six or seven families.

Post World War IIEdit

In the mid-20th century, the Mafia was reputed to have infiltrated many labor unions in the United States, notably the Teamsters, whose president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared and is widely believed to have been murdered by close personal friend Frank Sheeran, as stated in his book I Heard You Paint Houses. In the 1980s, the U.S. government made a determined effort to remove Mafia influence from labor unions.

In the 21st century, the Mafia has been involved in a broad spectrum of illegal activities. These include murder, extortion, corruption of public officials, gambling, infiltration of legitimate businesses, labor racketeering, loan sharking, tax fraud schemes, and most notably today, stock manipulation schemes.


The Mafia had eventually expanded to twenty-six crime families nationwide in the major cities of the United States, with the center of organized crime based in New York and its surrounding areas. After many turf wars, the Five Families ended up dominating New York, named after prominent early members: the Bonanno family, the Colombo family, the Gambino family, the Genovese family, and the Lucchese family. These families held underground conferences with other Mafia notables like Joe Porrello from Cleveland, and other gang leaders, such as Al Capone.

  • Boss — The boss is the head of the family, usually reigning as a dictator, sometimes called the Don or "Godfather". The boss receives a cut of every operation taken on by every member of his family. Depending on the family, the boss may be chosen by a vote from the Caporegimes of the family. In the event of a tie, the Underboss must vote. In the past, all the members of a family voted on the boss, but by the late 1950s, any gathering such as that usually attracted too much attention.[4] In practice many of these elections are foregone conclusions such as that of John Gotti in 1986. According to Sammy Gravano a meeting was held in a basement during which all capos were searched and Gotti's men stood ominously behind him. He was then proclaimed boss.
  • Underboss — The underboss, usually appointed by the boss, is the second in command of the family. The underboss is in charge of all of the capos, who are controlled by the boss. The underboss is usually first in line to become acting boss if the boss is imprisoned. Unless the don names a successor other than his underboss, the underboss is often first in line to become boss when the boss dies.
  • Consigliere — The consigliere is an advisor to the family and sometimes seen as the Boss's "right-hand man". They are used as a mediator of disputes, representatives or aides in meetings with other families. In practice today the consigliere is normally the third ranking member of the administration of a family and does not necessarily need to be senior in age or experience for advisory purposes. A Boss will often appoint someone close to him who they trust as their consigliere.
  • Caporegime (or capo) — A caporegime (also captain or skipper) is in charge of a crew; a group of soldiers who report directly to him. Each crew usually contains 10-20 soldiers and many more associates. A capo is appointed by the boss and reports to him or the underboss. A captain gives a percentage of his (and his underlings) earnings to the boss and is also responsible for any tasks assigned, including murder. In labor racketeering it is usually a capo who controls the infiltration of union locals. If a Capo becomes powerful enough he can sometimes wield more power than some of his superiors. In cases like Anthony Corallo they might even overstep the Mafia structure and lead the family when the boss dies.
  • Soldato (Italian for soldier) — A soldato is a member of the family, and traditionally can only be of Italian background (although today many families require men to be of only half Italian descent on their father's side). Once a member is made he is untouchable, meaning a sitdown involving the soldier's capo and boss must be held before he is murdered. When the books are open, meaning that there is an open spot in the family, a Capo (or several Capos) may recommend an up-and-coming associate to be a new member. They are also called made men, who have made their bones, by committing a murder on the orders of his superiors (a capo, underboss, consigliere, or boss). This ensures the soldier's reliability: he will never testify against a man who could testify against him. Being made is the beginning but not the end of a Mafia career. (The definitions of made man and making one's bones are inferred: most books on the Mafia—fiction or nonfiction—assume these terms but never define them.)[citation needed]
  • Associate — An associate is not a member of the mob, and an associate's role is similar to that of an errand boy. They are usually a go-between or sometimes deal in drugs to keep the heat off the actual members, or they are people the family does business with (restaurant owners, etc.) In other cases, an associate might be a corrupt labor union delegate or businessman.[4] Non-Italians will never go any further than this, with the Chicago Outfit as an exception; while the Outfit is dominated by Italians, it has had occasional non-Italians in high ranks from its earliest days. However, occasionally an associate will become powerful within his own family, for example Joe Watts, a close associate of John Gotti. Jimmy Burke was another powerful Mafia associate, who was said to have had the respect of a capo in the Lucchese family.

The American Mafia's organizational structure and system of control were created by Salvatore Maranzano (who became the first "capo di tutti capi" in the US, though he was killed by Lucky Luciano after holding the position for only six months).

Most recently there have been two new positions in the family leadership: the family messenger and street boss. These positions were created by former Genovese leader Vincent Gigante.

Each faction was headed by a caporegime, who reported to the boss. When the boss made a decision, he never issued orders directly to the soldiers who would carry it out, but instead passed instructions down through the chain of command. In this way, the higher levels of the organization were effectively insulated from incrimination if a lower level member should be captured by law enforcement. This structure is depicted in Mario Puzo's famous novel The Godfather. In The Godfather: Part II, These links are called "buffers": they provide what the intelligence community calls plausible deniability.


The initiation ritual emerged from various sources, such as Roman Catholic confraternities and Masonic Lodges in mid-nineteenth century Sicily[5] and has hardly changed to this day. The Chief of Police of Palermo in 1875 reported that the man of honor to be initiated would be led into the presence of a group of bosses and underbosses. One of these men would prick the initiate's arm or hand and tell him to smear the blood onto a sacred image, usually a saint. The oath of loyalty would be taken as the image was burned and scattered, thus symbolising the annihilation of traitors. This was confirmed by the first pentito, Tommaso Buscetta.

A hit, or assassination, of a "made" man had to be approved by the leadership of his family, or retaliatory hits would be made, possibly inciting a war. In a state of war, families would "go to the mattresses" — an Italian phrase of uncertain origin which roughly meant to go into battle. [6]

Symbolism in murdersEdit

  • For allowing Joseph Pistone into the Bonanno crime family caporegime Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano had his hands severed, since he had Pistone shake hands and introduced others that he was a "friend of ours" or a made man when he was in fact not. Later during the attempted murder of Joseph Sintallini, Tommy Agro attempted the same thing.
  • In the murder of Lucchese crime family soldier Bruno Facciolo, a dead canary was stuffed inside his mouth after he was shot to death.
  • On April 18, 1980, Philadelphia Mafia Consigliere Antonio Caponigro had Angelo Bruno killed without the approval of The Commission. Caponigro and his brother-in-law Alfred Salerno were taken to an isolated house in the mountains of upstate New York and tortured for days before finally being killed. Sixty-four year old Salerno had been shot three times behind the right ear and once behind the left ear. The autopsy report showed that rope had been tied around his neck, wrists, and ankles with most of his neck and face bones shattered. Caponigro was shown to have been suffocated, beaten, repeatedly stabbed and shot, and was found later in a garbage bag. Around $300 was found stuffed up Caponigro's rectum as a sign that the unfortunate man had become too greedy.[7]

American Mafia families by regionEdit

Note that the Mafia has members, associates, and families in others region as well. The organization is not limited to these regions. Many of these families have influence in other U.S. states, cities, and areas also.

Prominent Italian American MafiosiEdit

See also: List of Italian American mobsters*Tony Accardo 'Joe Batters': (1906–1992) Longest serving Boss of the Chicago Outfit.

Cooperation with the U.S. governmentEdit

During World War IIEdit

U.S. Naval Intelligence entered into an agreement with Lucky Luciano to gain his assistance in keeping the New York waterfront free from saboteurs after the destruction of the SS Normandie.[8]

Plots to Assassinate Fidel CastroEdit

In August 1960, Colonel Sheffield Edwards, director of the Office of Security of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), proposed the assassination of Cuban head of state Fidel Castro by Mafia assassins. Between August 1960 and April 1961, the CIA, with the help of the Mafia, pursued a series of plots to poison or shoot Castro.[9] Those allegedly involved included Sam Giancana, Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante, Jr., and John Roselli.[10]

Law enforcement and the MafiaEdit

In several Mafia families, killing a state authority is forbidden due to the possibility of extreme police retaliation. In some rare strict cases, conspiring to commit such a murder is punishable by death. The Jewish mobster Dutch Schultz was reportedly killed by his Italian peers out of fear that he would carry out a plan to kill New York City prosecutor Thomas Dewey. The Mafia did carry out hits on law enforcement in its earlier history. New York police officer Joe Petrosino was shot by Sicilian mobsters while on duty in Sicily. A statue of him was later erected across the street from a Lucchese hangout.[11]

In 1951, a U.S. Senate Committee, led by Democratic Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, determined that a "sinister criminal organization" known as the Mafia operated around the United States. The hearings, televised nationwide, captured the attention of the American people and forced the FBI to recognize the existence of organized crime.

In 1953, the FBI initiated the "Top Hoodlum Program". The purpose of the program was to have agents collect information on the mobsters in their territories and report it regularly to Washington to maintain a centralized collection of intelligence on racketeers.[12]

In 1957, the New York State Police uncovered a meeting of major American Cosa Nostra figures from around the country in the small upstate New York town of Apalachin (near Binghamton, New York. This gathering has become known as the Apalachin Conference. Many of the attendees were arrested, and this event was the catalyst that changed the way law enforcement battled organized crime.

The establishment of the United States Organized Crime Strike Force facilitated efforts to prosecute members of the Mafia. The Strike Force was established in the 1960s through a joint congressional effort led by Robert Kennedy. It was under the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Labor. It was later disbanded at the national level, but continues at the state and local level today. It was responsible for investigating and eventually helping to bring down high-level Mafiosos such as Joseph Aiuppa of the Chicago Outfit, Anthony Salerno of the Genovese crime family of New York and Paul Castellano of the Gambino Family. Also, the Strike Force eliminated much of the organized crime in the Teamsters across the country.

In 1963, Joe Valachi became the first American Cosa Nostra member to provide a detailed look at the inside of the organization. Having been recruited by FBI special agents, and testifying before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations, Valachi exposed the name, structure, power bases, codes, swearing-in ceremony, and members of this organization. All of this had been secret up to this point.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) passed in 1970 made it a crime to belong to an organization that performed illegal acts, and it created programs such as the witness protection program. Frequent use of the act began during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Charges of racketeering were successfully pressed against scores of mobsters, including two of New York's Godfathers, Anthony Corallo and Carmine Persico, during the Commission Case in 1985. Another of those convicted, Anthony 'Fat Tony' Salerno, was thought of as the Genovese Godfather but was only a front-boss. The Act continued to be used to great effect up to the end of the 20th century and hurt the Mob severely.

The Mafia is still the dominant organized crime group in the United States, despite the success of RICO. According to Selwyn Raab, author of Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires, after the September 11 attacks in 2001, the FBI has redirected most of its attention to finding terrorists.

In popular cultureEdit

  • The American branch of the Mafia has provided the setting and characters for many well-regarded films. These include:
  • American Mafiosi also appear in supporting roles in many other films mostly in the crime genre, such as True Romance, The Departed, and American Gangster.
  • The Sopranos is a highly acclaimed television series about a Mafia boss (played by James Gandolfini) and his balancing between his home and criminal lives.
  • Mafia gangsters have also appeared in several video games, notably the Mafia series, where the player joins a family as a soldier.
  • The Mafia was an answer to a puzzle on Password Plus in 1979. The fourth clue, "Sicilian", was censored. Host Allen Ludden later apologized to any Italian-Americans who took offense to "Sicilian" being used as a clue.
  • The Mafia is also the topic of many popular novels, most notably in the work of author Mario Puzo, which includes The Godfather, The Last Don, and Omertà, and also in James Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy.
  • The Mafia was included in the fifth episode of the hit Spike TV series Deadliest Warrior called Yakuza vs. Mafia, with the Mafia winning 586 out of 1,000 battles to the Yakuza's 414 wins.

The Leone family is an Italian-American Mafia criminal organization, originating from Sicily (referred to by Salvatore Leone as "the old country") whose main base of operations is in Liberty City. Salvatore Leone became the Don of the Leone family after a bloody power struggle during the mid-1980s. He has a son, Joey Leone, who much to Salvatore's dismay is not wed yet. It is assumed that Salvatore became Don after his unnamed brother was killed.

The Leone family was active in Las Venturas in 1992, where they held a stake in Caligula's Casino with the Sindacco and Forelli families, possibly in an attempt to unite the organisations. The casino was later robbed in a heist organised by former ally Carl Johnson and the San Fierro Triads.

It is assumed that because of the great loss of money from the heist, Salvatore abandons his investments in Las Venturas and returns to Liberty City, allowing the Sindacco family to retake their position within the city, however this is merely speculation. Not only that, but the shock of Carl (previously a loyal associate) betraying him and stealing so much of his money right from under his nose drove the Don to paranoia.

By 1998, the Leone family had become engaged in a war with the Sindacco and Forelli families in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. The hostilities lead to Salvatore being arrested, the death of the Forelli-controlled Mayor Roger C. Hole, the death of Sindacco family Don Paulie Sindacco and the destruction of Fort Staunton. The Leones also manage to tackle the Sicilian Mafia, lead by Uncle Leone and Massimo Torini, leaving them the only mafia family with significant power in the city. The Leone family also recapture a club in the Red Light District, renaming it Luigi's Sex Club 7. They also gain new territories in the Red Light District and parts of of both Hepburn Heights and Chinatown. However, these events lead to a weakening of the Leone family, with the Diablos and Triads moving onto Portland Island. Hostilities with the Yakuza also remain, as Toni had killed the Yakuza leader, Kazuki Kasen. By the end of 1998, having failed to secure Donald Love as Mayor of Liberty City, they begin to control new Mayor Miles O'Donovan after rescuing him from the Sicilian Mafia.

In 2000 Yakuza co-leader Asuka Kasen employs Mike to extract revenge on the Mafia for the murder of her brother Kazuki. The Mafia presumably refers to the Leone family as the Sindaccos and Forellis are severely weakened following the events of GTA Liberty City Stories. She has Mike kidnap at least fifteen Leone Family gang members and sell them in Asia as servants.

By 2001 the Leone family have lost power in the city, although they remain one of the strongest gangs in the city. The territory they had gained in Chinatown is lost to the Triads whilst the Diablos have taken control of Hepburn Heights, as predicted by Toni Cipriani in 1998. The Colombian Cartel have also been undermining the Leone family, selling SPANK from the factory on freighter in Portland Harbor and through noodle stands. The Forelli family also remain a small threat despite only holding on to Marco's Bistro. The Forelli's are seemingly pushed out of Liberty City after the death of Mike Forelli, whilst the Leone Family launch a full-scale war against the Triads. This leads to the death of three Triad warlords and the destruction of the Triads Fish Factory. The Cartel too are weakened with the destruction of their freighter in Portland Harbor. Whilst neither conflict with the Forellis, Triads or Cartel is resolved, both appear to be going in the Leone's favour.

However, Salvatore's paranoia sets in when his wife, Maria Latore, tells him that she fancies Leone associate Claude. He rigs a car in order to kill Claude, although Maria informs Claude of this plot. The two meet at a small jetty with the co-leader of the Yakuza, Asuka Kasen, who has Claude kill Salvatore to prove that he has severed all ties with the Leone Family.

In Grand Theft Auto III and GTA Liberty City Stories, Leone henchmen don black suits; some with sunglasses. In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the mobsters (presumed to be the Leone family) dress in either brown leather jackets with gray pants, light blue shirts with chains or in black jogging suits. The Leone family is widely speculated to be based on the Corleone family from The Godfather novel and film.

The official gang car of the Leone family is the Mafia Sentinel (or Leone Sentinel), a modified jet black version of the Sentinel. However, there are also uniquely jet black versions of other cars either used by the Leone family or located near their property in both GTA III and GTA Liberty City Stories. These include a Rumpo used by the Leones in Under Surveillance, a Pony used by Toni Cipriani in Taking the Peace, a Kuruma used by Vincenzo Cilli and parked outside his house, and a PCJ-600 parked outside Salvatore Leone's mansion.

The Forelli Family is an Italian-American Mafia family based in Liberty City. The family has been in operation since at least 1971 and has been headed by family members Sonny, Franco, Marco, Mike and possibly cousin Giorgio Forelli in the 30 years between 1971 and 2001.


[show]*1 History


� �


Forelli Family associate Tommy Vercetti, who kills eleven men in Harwood, Liberty City earning him 15 years in prison and the nickname "The Harwood Butcher" �


In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Giorgio Forelli attempts to kill Phil Collins due to Barry Mickelthwaite owing Giorgio Forelli money. Victor Vance kills all the hitmen squads sent therefore saving both Phil and Barry from dying. �


In GTA Vice City, the Forellis had decided to expand "down south" by opening relations with local drug cartels through recently released from prison Tommy Vercetti. However, this never happened due to Sonny Forelli's death and Tommy's defection. �


In GTA San Andreas, it was agreed the Forellis would own an equal share of Caligula's Palace casino in Las Venturas, along with the Sindacco and Leone families. The Families couldn't decide between themselves who should run the casino. Therefore, Ken Rosenberg was put forward as a neutral party, which any war between the families ignite, Rosenberg will be killed.

While Johnny Sindacco is at the hospital for being traumatized, the Forellis decide to take the moment to kill him, by hijacking his ambulance. Rosenberg becomes aware of the hit, and sends Carl Johnson to retrieve Johnny's ambulance before a war is ignited between the families. However, Johnny later dies from an induced heart attack, and Salvatore Leone returns to Las Ventruas to reclaim the money that he invested in the casino from Rosenberg. The Forellis later send hitman to kill Salvatore, who was aware of the hit and decides to send Carl to kill the hitmen in their flight before they arrive in Las Ventruas. The hit leads to Salvatore to finish the Forellis by sending Carl to Liberty City, to kill the Forellis underboss Marco Forelli, while at the Marco's Bistro. The hit weakens the Forellis, and ends their occupation in Las Venturas, leaving the Leones to take full control of the casino. �


In GTA Liberty City Stories, the Forellis deal with the death of Mayor Roger C. Hole who was working for Franco Forelli at the time and then had found another representative Miles O'Donovan to go against Donald Love, who was representative with the Leone's. However, O'Donovan wins as the voters found out that Love was unfit for office because he was working with Toni Cipriani.

Later on a war was sparked between the Forellis and the Sindaccos in Fort Staunton, which was caused by the Sicilian Mob, after the Sindacco's had begun invading Forelli territory on Staunton Island. Toni is caught up in it, as Salvatore Leone takes advantage of the war to foil Massimo Torini's plan to take over the city. The war leads to both families to be weakened as upcoming gangs the Uptown Yardies and the Yakuza take over their territory left behind. The families eventually try to broker a truce to which Salvatore bug's Paulie Sindacco's car to kill the Forellis attending the peace meeting. As the war continues the Forellis continue to lose territory on Shoreside Vale, after Toni Cipriani and the Southside Hoods take over the last expanding turf the Forellis have occupation in. The war continues until Paulie Sindacco was killed after trying to flee Liberty City, after his invlovement in getting Salvatore jailed.

The Forellis later target the Yakuza, after Kazuki Kasen had taken over all the territory in Liberty City and began stocking up on powerful weapons such as a tank. The Forellis catch Kazuki's wife Toshiko Kasen attending the Fort Staunton Opera House with Toni Cipriani, and attempt to kill her (not knowing that Toshiko is against her huspand's plots). The Forellis are later completly weakened after their main base of operations Fort Staunton, was destroyed by underground explosives in the old subway main line running throught southern Staunton Island. �


In GTA III, they are named the Forelli Brothers. The Forellis seems to have been weakened considerably, with the killing of several more Forelli members. It is assumed that the Forellis have been reduced to servitude under the Leone Family and their organization on the whole is now considered a brotherhood.

A high-ranking member Mike Forelli, was killed in a car explosion by a bomb that was set by Claude, on orders from Joey Leone, who the Forellis owed money to at the time. Bad blood between Joey and the Forelli brothers continue, to which Joey had another Forelli killed and stuffed in a car. Due to the Forelli surveillance around the vehicle, Joey sent Claude to dispose of it at the Harwood Autocrusher and Junkyard. �


In GTA Liberty City Stories, Forelli henchmen don blue/dark red shirts with light blue/white jackets over and carry pistols. In GTA III, they dressed like the Leones as seen in one of Joey Leone's missions, although this is because they were in disguise. In GTA Vice City, the Forelli's are seen wearing light blue or brown Hawaiian shirts. In GTA San Andreas, the mobsters (presumed to be the Forelli's) either dress in brown jackets, light green shirts with black pants or black jogging suits. In GTA Vice City Stories, the Forelli hitman seen in a couple of missions wear dark colored shirts with black jackets over. �


  • The Forelli family are the only gang to have appeared in every GTA III era game, with the exception of Grand Theft Auto Advance (although they have appeared, as there is only a reference to the Mafia, not a particular family).

The Sindacco Family is an Italian-American Mafia family originating from Liberty City and later based in Las Venturas.

In 1992 (the time of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), they had territory in Liberty City after Sonny Forelli's death. The Sindaccos also own Caligula's Casino, later alongside the Forelli and Leone families. The Sindacco Family wanted to do business with the Leone family and unite the two organizations and this involved Don Salvatore Leone pledging 5 million dollars to the Sindacco family. Both outfits argued over who should run the casino, and so Ken Rosenberg (once working with the Forelli Family, but then abandoned by the very powerful Vercetti Gang) was put forward as a neutral party. Ken was in the middle of the three families, so if one attacked the other, Ken would most likely be the target of revenge. Johnny Sindacco.The Sindacco family was formerly represented by Johnny Sindacco, who died from shock-induced heart failure in GTA San Andreas after meeting protagonist Carl Johnson for a second time. It was revealed that Johnny had previously been captured by the San Fierro Triads, tied onto a car driven by Carl and scared into revealing information. He then went into a coma, suffering a period of psychological and physical trauma. The Introduction prequel also indicates Johnny is in fact the son of the Sindacco's Don, (who may be Paulie Sindacco), as he mentioned that his father wanted to unite their organization with the Leone family. It is probable that after the Leones abandoned Caligula's Casino and returned to Liberty City, that the Sindaccos would move in.

By the end of 1998, Paulie Sindacco decided to expand further throughout Liberty City, moving into Leone family territory in Chinatown, dealing drugs. In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, on orders from Salvatore Leone, Toni Cipriani used Joseph Daniel O'Toole, who was running Paulie's Revue Bar in Liberty City's Red Light District for the Sindacco family, as an inside-man to help weaken the Sindaccos and claim the Red Light District and Paulie's Revue Bar (renamed Sex Club 7 by the Leones) as Leone territory. Later on, Toni Cipriani would kill Paulie Sindacco in 1998. Paulie "The Invisible Don" Sindacco.After their defeat by the Leone Family in the first gang war of 1998, the Sindaccos were ceased to only Torrington on Staunton Island, also starting moving into Forelli Family territory in hopes of taking it over. This resulted in the third gang war of 1998, this time between the Sindaccos and the Forellis. Franco Forelli and Paulie Sindacco attempted to establish a truce between the Forelli and Sindacco families, possibly to defeat the Leones together. Before a truce could be created, however, Toni Cipriani uses a remote control device to assume control of Paulie Sindacco's car and run over dozens of Forelli Family members with it. This fueled the Sindacco family war with the Forelli Family, which doesn't end until the assassination of Paulie Sindacco in Shoreside Vale later that same year and the death of Franco Forelli in the Little Italy explosion, all caused by Leone capo Tony Cipriani.

With no turf or front companies remaining in Liberty City, the Sindacco family have very little influence (if any at all) remaining in Liberty City by Grand Theft Auto III. The family's fate remains unknown, as their activity outside Liberty City after Paulie's death is never disclosed. It is speculated they settled permanently in Las Venturas, it being their only other known outpost.

In GTA Liberty City Stories, Sindacco members wear black shirts, black pants and brown jackets with/without sunglasses and carry pistols. In GTA San Andreas, the mobsters (presumed to be the Sindacco Family) dress in either brown leather jackets with grey pants and light blue shirts with chains, or in black jogging suits.

The Russian Mafia (Cyrillic: Русская мафия, Russkaya Mafiya) or Bratva are a gang that appear in Grand Theft Auto 2, again briefly in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and play a major role in Grand Theft Auto IV. � The Russian Mafia, in GTA 2, are led by Jerkov and are experts in contract killings and gun running. They are located in the Industrial Sector and are in a rivalry with the Hare Krishna and in an intense rivalry with The Zaibatsu Corporation. Jerkov hires Claude Speed to kill Zaibatsu gang members, save Jerkov from assassins and killing other Russian drug dealers, amongst other things. Their favorite radio station is KGBH, a pun on the Soviet KGB. Other members include: Ivan, Uncle Vanka, Bilovski, Ziggy Pole, Lodov, Shagski, Sandra Tito and Chesti-Kov.

The Russian Mafia only appear in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for a short time. They wear black t-shirts or grey sweaters, or matching jackets and trousers. Though they have no permanent stake in the state, they have claimed the Atrium as a temporary turf in the mission Just Business, and also appear in league with the Ballas, Los Santos Vagos and San Fierro Rifa in Big Smoke's "Crack Palace". Their influence is obviously felt considerably more overseas, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russian mobsters flooded into America.

The Russian Mafia in Grand Theft Auto IV are a big and influential gang based in the south part or Broker, Liberty City. Members can be seen all over Hove Beach, Firefly Island and Beachgate in large numbers, the majority of them appear to be overweight.� They may wear any of a variety of clothes, including suits, Russian fur hats, leather gloves, camo trousers, black/diamond-knit turtlenecks and green/brown suit jackets. Some have tattoos on their hands -- some have a Soviet hammer and sickle on the back of the hand, some have a cross on the palm, and there are two other as-yet unidentified tattoos. The Russian Mafia is made up of two known families: the Petrovic Family and the Faustin Family. Unidentified Russians in fur hats and sunglasses will shoot at you in the Russian Shop should you open fire at the clerk; considering the store's nature and location, these are likely to be Russian Mafia members fulfilling their part of a protection racket.


  • In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, there is a way to gain more gang territory throughout the state of San Andreas. To exploit the glitch, fly a plane into the southwest or southest corners of the map, and continue onwards in the respective direction; continue this for a long period (30 real-world minutes is suggested), then either fly back (which will take a long time), or drown oneself after the 30-minute mark. After returning or awaking at a hospital, a glitch will have occured, and there will be gang territories visible all over San Andreas. The Russian Mafia can now be encountered in Las Venturas, usually wielding Desert Eagles, and driving Feltzers, Sentinels, or Admirals.
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