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  1. History of the US Mafia Organisation………………………………………...……....2

  2. Rituals of Mafia Organisation…………………………………………………...…….4

2.1 Mafia Rules and Customs……………………………………………………...….5

2.2 Symbolism in Murders………………………………………………………….....6

  1. Hardest American Prison………………………………………………………...……7

3.1 Prison Gangs………………………………………………………………………7

    1. Important Criminals in the Stateville Correctional Center………………………..9




The American Mafia is an Italian-American criminal society. Similar to the Sicilian Mafia, the American Mafia is a secret criminal society without a formal name. Its members usually refer to it as Cosa Nostra. The press has also coined the name "National Crime Syndicate" to refer to the entirety of U.S. organized crime, including the Mafia.

The Mafia is known worldwide but most of the people do not know that there is a long history for this big organisation which has had a contribution in the history of the USA. The paper contains 3 chapters. In the first one “History of the US Mafia Organisation” the paper will present the first years of the Mafia evolution. The second Chapter “Rituals of the Mafia Organisation” contains information about the rules and customs of the mafia and the symbolism in murders. Furthermore, the third chapter “Hardest American Prison” presents the prison gangs caught and put behind bars and important criminals living inside the Stateville Correctional Center.



  1. History of the US mafia Organisation

The first published account of what would evolve into the Mafia in the United States came in the spring of 1869. The New Orleans Times reported that the city's Second District had become overrun by "well-known and notorious Sicilian murderers, counterfeiters and burglars, who, in the last month, have formed a sort of general co-partnership or stock company for the plunder and disturbance of the city." Emigration from southern Italy to the Americas was primarily to Brazil and Argentina, and New Orleans had a heavy volume of port traffic to and from both locales.

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 national organizations. The Black Hand was a name given to an extortion method used in Italian neighborhoods at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. It has been sometimes mistaken for the Mafia itself, which it is not. Although the Black Hand was a criminal society, there were many small Black Hand gangs.

Black Hand extortion was often (wrongly) viewed as the activity of a single organization because Black Hand criminals in Italian communities throughout the United States used the same methods of extortion. Giuseppe Esposito was the first known Mafia member to immigrate 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 by nativists 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 acquittal, 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.

From the 1890s to the 1900s (decade) 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 influential Mafia family in East Harlem. The Neapolitan Camorra was very active in Brooklyn, also. 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.


  1. Rituals of Mafia Organisations

The initiation ritual emerged from various sources, such as Roman Catholic confraternities and Masonic Lodges in mid-19th century Sicily and has hardly changed to this day. (Pino, 47)

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 pentitoTommaso 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 which roughly meant to go into battle.

2.1 Mafia rules and customs

In order to be invited into the American Mafia and become a member one must perform a series of tasks, such as committing murder for the family and not for one's own personal benefit. When the boss decides to let a member into the family one will be part of a ceremony, involving the drawing of blood, swearing an oath over a gun or holy picture, and obeying the rules of the organization. (Repetto 66)

In New York City, the Mafia created customs and traditions which the members have to follow. If one breaks any of the rules they can be killed by another member of the family and usually the murder is committed by the people closest to that person.

  1. "Omertà" – is the oath or "code of silence", never talk to the authorities.

  2. "Ethnicity" – only men of Italian descent are allowed to become full members (made men). Associates, partners, allies etc. have no ethnic limits.

  3. "Family secrets" – members are not allowed to talk about family business to non-members.

  4. "Blood for blood" – if a family member is killed (by another member) no one can commit murder (in revenge) until the boss gives permission.

  5. "No fighting among members" – from fist fights to knife fights.

  6. "Tribute" – every month; members must pay the boss; also giving the boss a cut on any side deals.

  7. "Adultery" – members are not allowed to commit adultery with another family member’s wife.

  8. "No facial hair" – members were not allowed to grow mustaches; part of the Mustache Pete way. (Pino,55)

Homosexuality is reportedly incompatible with the American Mafia code of conduct. In 1992, John D'Amato, acting boss of the DeCavalcante family, was killed when the family learned of his sexual relationships with other men.

2.2 Symbolism in murders 

In 1981, for allowing undercover FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco, to infiltrate the Bonanno crime family caporegime Dominic Napolitano, also known as Sonny Black, had his hands severed after he was killed. This was because he had Pistone shake hands and introduced to others as a "friend of ours" or a made man when he was not.

In the 1990 murder of Lucchese crime family soldier Bruno Facciolo, a dead canary was stuffed into his mouth after he was shot to death. He had also been stabbed and shot in both eyes.

On April 18, 1980, Philadelphia Mafia consigliere Antonio Caponigro had Angelo Bruno killed without the The Commission's approval. Caponigro and his brother-in-law Alfred Salerno were taken to an isolated house in upstate New York and tortured before being killed. Salerno had been shot three times behind the right ear and once behind the left ear. The autopsy showed that a rope had been tied around his neck, wrists, and ankles, and most of his neck and face bones shattered. Caponigro had been suffocated, beaten, repeatedly stabbed and shot, and was found in a garbage bag. Around $300 was stuffed up Caponigro's rectum as a sign that he had become greedy.

3. Hardest American Prison

3.1 Prison Gangs

A Prison gang is any type of gang activity in prisons and correctional facilities. Prison officials and others in law enforcement use the term security threat group or STG. The concept for this name is to take away the recognition and publicity that the term "gang" connotes when referring to people who have an interest in undermining the system.

Most prison gangs do more than offer simple protection for their members. Most often, prison gangs are responsible for any drug, tobacco or alcohol handling inside correctional facilities. Furthermore, many prison gangs involve themselves in prostitution, assaults, kidnappings and murders. Prison gangs often seek to intimidate other inmates (pressuring them to relinquish their food and other resources) and bribe or intimidate prison staff (to ensure they can go about their activities without interference, and to create links to the outside). In addition, prison gangs often exercise a large degree of influence over organized crime in the "free world", larger than their isolation in prison might lead one to expect.

Since the 1980s, larger prison gangs have consciously worked to leverage their influence inside prison systems to control and profit from drug trafficking on the street. This is made possible based upon the logic that individuals involved in selling illegal drugs face a high likelihood of serving a prison term at some point or in having a friend or family member in prison.

The cooperation of drug dealers and other criminals can be secured due to the credible threat of violence upon incarceration if it is not provided. Prison gang members and associates who are released are usually expected to further the gang's activities after their release and may face danger if they refuse and are returned to prison, such as on a parole violation. The War on Drugs also led to large numbers of drug addicts serving prison terms, providing gangs with a significant method of asserting control within the prison and by controlling the drug trade that happens on the yard and behind bars..

Prison gangs often have several "affiliates" or "chapters" in different state prison systems that branch out due to the movement or transfer of their members. Smaller prison gangs may associate with or declare allegiance to larger ones. In addition, some prison gang "chapters" may split into antagonistic groups that become rivals, as the Mexican Mafia did in Arizona (into the "Old" or "Original" Mexican Mafia associated with the original California gang and the "New Mexican Mafia", a rival group).

3.2 Important Criminals in the Stateville Correctional Center

The Stateville Correctional Center is one of the most storied prisons in U.S. history. Built in 1925 in Crest Hill, Illinois, the maximum security state prison has housed numerous famed and notorious criminals, such as Leopold and Loeb, Richard Speck and John Wayne Gacy (Jerry 33)

Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr., (November 19, 1904 – August 29, 1971) and Richard Albert Loeb (June 11, 1905 – January 28, 1936), more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb", were two wealthy University of Chicago law students who kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 in Chicago

The duo was motivated to murder Franks by their desire to commit a perfect crime. Once apprehended, Leopold and Loeb retained Clarence Darrow as counsel for the defense. Darrow’s summation in their trial is noted for its influential criticism of capital punishment and retributive, as opposed to rehabilitative, penal systems. Leopold and Loeb were sentenced to life imprisonment. Loeb was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1936; Leopold was released on parole in 1958.

Leopold and Loeb have been the inspiration for several works in film, theater, and fiction, such as the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.

Richard Benjamin Speck was born in the village of Kirkwood, Illinois, six miles southwest of Monmouth in west-central Illinois, the seventh of eight children of Benjamin Franklin Speck and Mary Margaret Carbaugh Speck. The family moved to Monmouth shortly after Speck's birth. Speck and his younger sister, Carolyn, born in 1943, were much younger than their four older sisters and two older brothers (Speck's oldest brother, Robert, died at the age of 23 in an automobile accident in 1952). Speck's father worked as a packer at Western Stoneware in Monmouth and had previously worked as a farmer and logger. Speck was very close to his father, who died in 1947 from a heart attack at the age of 53. Speck was six years old at the time.

John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994) was an American serial killer and rapist, also known as the Killer Clown, who was convicted of the sexual assault and murder of a minimum of 33 teenage boys and young men in a series of killings committed between 1972 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois.

All of Gacy's known murders were committed inside his Norwood Park home; his victims would typically be lured to this address by force or guile and all but one victim was murdered by either asphyxiation or strangulation with a tourniquet (his first victim was stabbed to death). Gacy buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space of his home; three further victims were buried elsewhere on his property, while the bodies of his last four known victims were discarded in the Des Plaines River.

Convicted of 33 murders, Gacy was sentenced to death for 12 of these killings on March 13, 1980. He spent a total of 14 years ondeath row before he was executed by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center on May 10, 1994.
In conclusion, the Mafia is made up of "families" or gangs led by bosses who organize crime in order to make money. Three of the most famous bosses include Al Capone, Frank Costello and John Gotti. These three men were famous mobsters and money makers. For a while some people refused to admit that there was a Mafia in America, but this evidence proves the power and strength of the Mafia in America.

Power, money, and honor are three important values in American society. Nowhere are these three values more important, however, than to the American Mafia. The Mafia is a "structured organization with crime families, an order based on a leader or boss, an underboss or two, a number of capos or lieutenants, and then a group of soldiers" (Sifakis 207). The Mafia became leaders in organized crime and that's how it made money and gained power.


Allen, Edward J., Merchants of Menace--The Mafia: A Study of Organized Crime, Springfield IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1962. Print

Anastasia, George, Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob, the Mafia's Most Violent Family, York: William Morrow & Company, 1991. Print

Arlacchi, Pino, Mafia Business. The Mafia Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print

Capeci, Jerry, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia, Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. Print

Reppetto, Thomas, American Mafia: A History of Its Rise to Power Henry Holt and Company, 2004. Print

Wolf, George with Joseph DiMona, Frank Costello, Prime Minister of the Underworld, New York: William Morrow & Company, 1974. Print

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