La Cosa Nostra

Topics: Organized crime, Mafia, Sacra Corona Unita Pages: 5 (1444 words) Published: November 25, 2013
The Notorious La Cosa Nostra and Organized Crime


When the term family business is named, you might think of a farming business, or maybe selling certain products, but the words prostitution, loan-sharking, narcotics, and racketeering are not the first things to come to mind. La Cosa Nostra is what family business was about during the 1920’s and early 1940’s. La Cosa Nostra, a criminal organization from Sicily, Italy, began terrorizing the U.S by threatening the cities of New York, Chicago, and many others. During the 1920’s is when America began noticing that organized crime was occurring. Organized crime, the unlawful activity of members of a highly organized association engage in supplying illegal goods and services, was beginning to grow in a rapid pace. Around the 1960’s is when the crime families of La Cosa Nostra, began to deteriorate with either inside informants like Joseph Valachi. The law enforcement also had to do with the capturing of many mob bosses , because of their determination and of their persistence for justice. Although there are not as many mob families today, the organized crimes is still a problem in the U.S.


La Cosa Nostra, meaning “our thing” in Italian, is a group of Italian immigrant organized

crime families in which have been operating and committing crimes since 1920’s. People seem to have the idea that the Italian mobs were the first crime families in America, but the first organized crime families in the U.S, were actually the Irish and the Jewish ever since the 1800’s. According to Schmalleger(2012), “throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Jewish gangsters like Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugy” Siegel, “Dutch” Schultz, and Lepke Buchalter ran many of the rackets in New York City, only to have their places taken by the Italian immigrants who arrived a few weeks later” (p.319). The Italian crime families began in Italy. The secret societies in Italy all but expunged during the 1930’s and early 1940’s under the Fascist dictator of Benito Mussolini. Some Italian criminal organizations came to the U.S with the European immigrant wave during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Italian criminal organization that also were the Mafia and the Black Hand, which specialises in the intimidation and extortion of Italian immigrants from their protection money and valuables, became very powerful in cities like Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, and New Orleans. “Four Italian organized crime groups that are currently active in the U.S, the Sicilian Mafia, Camorra, 'Ndrangheta and Sacra Corona Unita', came in the 1960’s to associate with La Cosa Nostra to get permission from the boss of the La Cosa Nostra, being the boss of the biggest La Cosa Nostra family, to take part of the heroin trade” (Russakoff, 1995). Organized criminal activity in the U.S during much of the twentieth century was the domain of Italian American immigrants and their descendants. To be able to be superior to their competing rivals, criminals of Sicilian descendants would reproduce the kind of illegal groups that had belonged in their country and employ the same rules to make them invincible.

Making The Families

There was not much to making it to the La Cosa Nostra families. There were a couple of requirements, for example, you had to be Sicilian or of sicilian descent. There is no age requirement, therefore boys as young as 16 years of age were able to join. An important requirement that that Families had, was that a member could not have a relative with the occupation of either a lawyer or a police officer. To be part of La Cosa Nostra, candidates would be tested for obedience, discretion, ruthlessness, and ability to spy. As Finckenaue describes:

“Becoming a made member of LCN requires serving an apprenticeship and then being proposed by a Boss. This is followed by gaining approval for membership from...
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