The Italian Mafia: An Overview

Topics: Mafia, Sicily, Palermo Pages: 5 (1601 words) Published: May 6, 2013
Ryan Caroli
Professor Warburton
Exploratory Essay
18 April 2013
Italian Mafia
The Italian Mafia has become such a powerful and threatening network in countries like Italy and America. The mafia uses brute force and intelligence to gain control over the politics, Church, and economy of these countries. Although its members carry out numerous crimes, like assaulting political and church officials, they are vital to the economy of the country. In one year, the Italian Mafia’s income is over sixty-billion dollars and makes up over ten percent of Italy’s GDP. The mafia may be a very successful and dominant organization that will never be terminated but it can be damaged by numerous persecutions of top-ranking mobsters.

The Italian Mafia formed when numerous invaders, including the Romans, Arabs, and the French ruled Sicily, an island between North Africa and the Italian mainland. The residents of Sicily came together to protect themselves from these hostile invaders and other groups from different regions of the island. These groups were later known as clans or families and established their own systems for retribution and justice. The clans would carry out their business in secret. By the 19th century small private armies, which were known as “mafie,” extorted money from landowners and took advantage of the chaotic, violent conditions of Sicily. From all of this history, the Sicilian Mafia surfaced as a collection of criminal families or clans.

The rise of the Mafia became more prominent after Sicily became a province of the recently unified Italy. After this the Italian government was trying to establish itself, however, crime and chaos reigned across this island. In the 1870s, crime worsened and Roman officials asked the Sicilian Mafia to assist them by going after independent criminal bands. In exchange for helping the government, the officials would not punish the Mafia for extorting money from landowners. The Italian government believed this arrangement would only last until Rome gained control of Sicily. However, the Mafia continued to expand their criminal acts and further their involvement in Sicilian politics and economy. The clans’ political corruption was displayed when they intimidated people to vote for a certain candidate, and these candidates were a part of the Mafia. Additionally, the Catholic Church was associated with the Sicilian clans and relied on them to monitor massive property holdings in Sicily.

The Sicilian clans are infamous for the brutal attacks on law officials. According to, “On May 23, 1992, the Sicilian Mafia struck Italian law enforcement with a vengeance. Italian Magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife, and three police bodyguards were killed by a massive bomb. Falcone was the director of Criminal Affairs in Rome” (Italian/Mafia 2013). In Sicily the term “Excellent Cadaver” is used to distinguish the assassinations of prominent government officials from the average criminal/citizen killed by the clans. Assaults like the one above are the result of the Mafia wanting to establish its dominance in Italy. They are using scare tactics to stop the government from pursuing the organization and taking down the top-ranked mobsters. The Sicilian Mafia will continue to influence the economy and politics of Italy for many more decades, and law officials will make numerous high-profile arrests but will never completely eradicate the Mafia in Sicily due to their vase numbers of members.

The mob will never be abolished but the government needs to control the acts within it. The fight for power over the government turned the small crimes of extorting money from landlords into bombing the country and killing law officials. According to John Taliabue of the New York Times, “From May to August 1993, five car bomb attacks in Rome, Florence and Milan left 10 people dead and dozens wounded. In addition to the Uffizi, the targets were two venerable Roman churches, San Giovanni in Laterano and...

Cited: "Italian/Mafia." FBI. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.
Lupo, Anthony. History of the Mafia. New York, New York, USA:
Columbia UP, 2009
Willing, Richard. "The Mafia Is on Shaky Ground." N.p., 10 Mar.
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