American Mafia Research Paper

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Similarities and Differences between the American and Sicilian Mafias The term “mafia”, only five letters, yet such a complex word. It describes an entire group of people and an entire way of life. Many associate mafia with classic cinema hits such as “The Godfather”, “Goodfellas” or the “Sopranos” when the reality is that the mafia is much more than the glorified portrayal of “men of honor” as depicted in the entertainment world. When examining the American mafia it is important to realize that the mafia actually originated in southern Italy, predominantly in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. It is also important to separate fact from fiction; most of what is portrayed…show more content…
Before, during and after World War Two, the American mafia was an extremely powerful figure especially within the control of the Five Families of the East Coast and Lucky Luciano of Chicago. The Origins of the Italian American Mafia The Italian American Mafia originated on the East Coast of the United States, primarily in New York City. It began in the poor Italian immigrant ghettos and small neighborhoods due to the large influx of Sicilian and Southern Italian immigrants during the 19th century. The American Mafia started with the term “La Mano Nera” or “The Black Hand”. La Mano Nera extorted Italian as well as other immigrants around the city and would threaten them by mail if their extortion demands were not met. La Mano Nera would soon turn into the Italian American Mafia or La Cosa Nostra Illegal activities would expand from extortion to loan sharking, prostitution, drugs and alcohol, robbery, kidnapping and murder as more Sicilian Mafiosi immigrated to the United States. Poor Italian immigrants warmly accepted and embraced the Mafia as a way of gaining power and rising out of poverty. They also saw it as a way…show more content…
Each is composed of criminal groups with members from all levels of society and the main objective is accumulating wealth or power. The Mafia is known as the “Onorata Societa” or Honored Society and the members are called men of honor although their actions are far from honorable. There is no written code only secret oral tradition. The control of territory is given through intimidation and violence which imposes the law of omerta. The Mafia appeals to all members of society making it trans class dimensional. This happens because the Mafia appeals to those at the bottom of society and offers them more opportunities in the illegal realm than they could have in the legal world. Both groups sought to bind themselves with politicians and influential members of the state through coercion, bribery and other illegal means such as exchanging votes for public resources and exemption of prosecution. Ironically, the financial and commercial world welcomes the Mafia due to the fact that they launder great amounts of illegal funds by investing them in legal activities. Some rituals practiced by both the Sicilian Mafia and American Mafia are the

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