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 FBI. com, “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 San Giorgio in Velabro, and a modern-art gallery in Milan” (Tagliabue 1994).
These violent attacks and bombings are destroying a country and the government needs to do everything in its power to stop this or at least lessen it. The influence of the mafia in politics and the Church is corrupting Italy and will only protect the clan from diminishing. Law officials not only need to find the leaders of the mob but also take the corrupt political figures out of office. The only benefit of the clan in Italy is its kick-start on the economy. The mafia makes over sixty billion dollars each year and makes up for ten percent of Italy’s GDP.
This aids the economy in flourishing each year even though this money is coming from organized crime. Despite this; the cons outweigh the pros and they also corrupt countries like America. The connection between the Mafia in Italy and America was made when thousands of organized crime-figures, who were mostly Sicilian Mafiosi, came to the United States illegally. Numerous fled there in the 1920s and established what is known as the La Cosa Nostra or the American Mafia. According to the novel History of the Mafia, “Between 1901 and 1914 alone, more than 800,000 Sicilians landed in the United States’’ (Lupo 2009).
This organization was involved in the American organized-crime network and conducted underground activities like prostitution and loan-sharking. Cosa Nostra also infiltrated industries and labor unions such as New York’s garment industry and construction. The success and secrecy of this organization was the result of their code of omerta, or code of secrecy, and their ability to bribe public officials, witnesses, and juries. I have personally seen how the mafia’s secrecy is so prevalent to their success. I have two friends that have parents that work with the Mafia.
When I asked both of them about their parents’ involvement, the only answers I received were that they did not know and that they never told them in detail about their occupation. I was surprised that even their children could not know about the jobs their parents’ jobs. However, even knowing that your parent is in the mafia is more than enough information. The organization strives in being secretive with their business and this has made them successful in their evasion of the police. Law-enforcement agencies, in fact, were highly ineffective at obstructing the Mafia during the beginning of the 20th century.
In the 1980s and the 1990s, this changed when prosecutors in the United States and Italy began successfully establishing harsh anti-racketeering laws to convict high-ranking mobsters. According to History. com, “Some Mafiosi, in order to avoid long prison terms, began breaking the once-sacred code of omerta and testified against fellow mob members” (Origins of the Mafia 2013).
This began the era in which law enforcement has become more effective in convicting numerous mobsters, like the infamous murderer Richard Kuklinski, also known as “The Iceman. Charles Montaldo of About. com stated “Richard Kuklinski was one of the most diabolical self-confessed contract killers in American history, who took credit for over 200 murders, including the murder of Jimmy Hoffa” (Montaldo 2013). By the start of the 21st century, police officials made hundreds of high-profile arrests and this had affected the Mafia in Italy and America. Underground crime and business diminished but the organizations were not completely eliminated. Today the Italian Mafia remains active in various criminal enterprises.
However, the mafia’s influence in the United States and Italy is diminishing by relentless prosecutions. According to Richard Willing of USA Today: John “Junior” Gotti, son of the late “Dapper Don” John Gotti, is being tried here on federal racketeering charges, including the kidnapping and shooting of radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa in 1992. Another accused acting boss — Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano of the Bonannos — is being tried on racketeering charges that include murder. At least 64 alleged Cosa Nostra members or associates are awaiting trial on federal charges.
Additionally the bosses of all the five crime families of New York have been convicted and imprisoned, and the supreme leader of the Sicilian Mafa, Bernando Provenzano, was arrested in 2006. The demise of the American and Sicilian Mafia is occurring and the statements above prove this. The organization in the United States that was once nationwide is now only down to one outfit in Chicago and New York City’s five families. Since 2002, more mobsters are agreeing to testify against their colleagues in return for recommendations of leniency.
Lengthy prison sentences that are associated with federal racketeering convictions have led to these testimonies. The mafia cannot be as strong and influential with the bosses of these families being imprisoned and mobsters testifying against each other. There will be a decrease in trust within the organization and the results will be that many families will be hesitant to work with one another. The Italian Mafia works most sufficiently as one and the sub-groups will hinder their business and success within organized crime.
- “Italian/Mafia. ” FBI. N. p. , n. d. Web. 09 Apr. 013. Lupo, Anthony. History of the Mafia. New York, New York, USA: Columbia UP, 2009. Ithaca College Library – Database Access. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.
- Montaldo, Charles. “Profile of Richard Kuklinski. ” About. com Crime / Punishment. N. p. , n. d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.
- “Origins of the Mafia. ” History. com. A&E Television Networks, n. d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.
- Tagliabue,, John. “Bombings Laid to Mafia War on Italy and Church. ” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 July 1994. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.
- Willing, Richard. “The Mafia Is on Shaky Ground. ” N. p. , 10 Mar. 2006. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.