Gangsters > La Costa Nostra

La Costa Nostra

Background

The American Mafia, often referred to in the United States as the Italian Mafia or Italian Mob, commonly shortened to the Mafia or Mob, and also known as the Italian-American Mafia,[1] La Cosa Nostra (LCN),[2] or the American Cosa Nostra,[3] is an extremely powerful, influential, highly organized and deadly Italian-American criminal society that originated and developed from the original "Mafia" or Cosa nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, though eventually encompassing other non-Sicilian Italian-American gangsters and organized crime groups of Italian origin in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Canada. Lacking a formal name, its members usually refer to it as Cosa Nostra (Italian pronunciation: [kɔza nɔstra]), a phrase meaning "our thing" or "our work". The father of American organized crime is generally considered to be Sicilian-American criminal Charles "Lucky" Luciano. The Mafia in the United States emerged in impoverished Italian immigrant neighborhoods in New York's East Harlem (or Italian Harlem), Lower East Side, and Brooklyn. It also emerged in other areas of the East Coast of the United States and several other major metropolitan areas (such as New Orleans[4]) during the late 19th century and early 20th Century following waves of Italian immigration, especially from Sicily and other regions of Southern Italy. It has its roots in the Sicilian Mafia, but is a separate organization in the United States. Neapolitan, Calabrian, and other Italian criminal groups in the U.S., as well as independent Italian-American criminals, eventually merged with Sicilian Mafiosi to create the modern pan-Italian Mafia in North America. Today, the American Mafia cooperates in various criminal activities with the Sicilian Mafia and other Italian organized crime groups, such as the Camorra in Naples, 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, and Sacra Corona Unita in Apulia. The most important unit of the American Mafia is that of a "family", as the various criminal organizations that make up the Mafia are known. Despite the name of "family" to describe the various units, they are not familial groupings.[5] The Mafia is currently most active in the Northeastern U.S., especially in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New England, especially in Boston and Providence. To a lesser extent, it is also active in other areas of the U.S., especially in other Northeastern and Midwestern cities; including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland,[6] with smaller families, associates, and crews in places such as Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, but, outside of New Orleans and Dallas, historically absent from the South and other areas of the U.S. without a significant Italian immigrant or Italian-American presence. It is also active in Canada, especially in Montreal and Toronto. There have been at least 26 cities around the United States with Cosa Nostra families, with many more offshoots, splinter groups, and associates in other cities. There are five main New York City Mafia families, known as the Five Families: the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno, and Colombo families. At its peak, the Mafia dominated organized crime in the U.S. Each crime family operates independently, while nationwide coordination is provided by the Commission, which consists of the bosses of each of the strongest families.

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