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May 14, 2009 1:51 PM   Subscribe

The Five Families were established by Charlie "Lucky" Luciano in the wake of the Castellammarese War (1929 - September 10, 1931), a gang war in New York between partisans of Joe "The Boss" Masseria and those of Salvatore Maranzano. The arrangement, under the administration of The Commission, was created to divide the city among the gangs with mutual interests, and prevent the continuous grab for more territory. Of course, the arrangement has been anything but peaceful, and the Five Families have all gone through periods of prosperity and decline. So who are they, and how are they doing now?

Genovese - Known as the "Ivy League" of the Five Families, the Genovese crime family can trace its origins back to Sicilian-American street gangs of the early 1900s, but gained establishment under Lucky Luciano. After being sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison in 1935 (he would be deported in 1946), the family fell under the control of Frank Costello, where it grew in strength through bookmaking, loansharking, illegal gambling and labor racketeering, and also had a prominent role in the development of the Las Vegas casinos, via Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. Costello suffered from depression and panic attacks, helping to pave the way for his underboss, Vito Genovese to take over. The beginning of the end started when Genovese family soldier Joseph "Joe Cargo" Valachi, at the time in prison and facing the death penalty, testified publicly in 1963 about the existence of the Mafia and its inner workings. His testimony helped the FBI close in, and their efforts were eased by family infighting. Today, the family is run by acting boss Daniel Leo and claims 270 made members, with extensive control over New York, New Jersey, Atlantic City and Florida. It remains the most powerful crime family in America.

Gambino - The roots of the Gambino crime family can be traced back to Pellegrino "Don Grino" Morano and Salvatore "Toto" D'Aquila, who took over following the jailing of Morano in 1916, but the Gambino crime family was formally founded by Vincenzo "Vincent" Mangano in the wake of the Castellammarese War. Mangano helped build the family through extortion, union racketeering, and illegal gambling operations including horse betting, running numbers and lotteries, and also created the City Democratic Club, a front for a group of mostly Jewish hitmen for hire known as Murder, Inc. The family reached its peak in the 1970s, becoming the strongest of the Five Familes at the time, having possibly organized the shooting of Joseph Colombo, head of the Colombo crime family, in 1971, as well as control over the Lucchese family and may have influenced the selection of Frank "Funzi" Tieri as boss of the Genovese crime family. Unfortunately for the Gambinos, the FBI considered them the easiest family to infiltrate - putting a listening device in a lamp on then-boss Paul Castellano's kitchen table enabled the feds to amass hours of recordings of Castellano discussing and organizing illegal activities, and the FBI had also tapped numerous phones. This resulted in 13 indictments of drug trafficking in 1983. Shortly thereafter, the media-friendly John Gotti rose to power, but his colorful reign would last barely seven years, as he and current Consigliere Frank "Frankie Loc" LoCascio were convicted and received a sentence of life without parole on April 2, 1992. Today, the family is run by a three-man panel of street bosses consisting of Daniel "Danny" Marino, Giovanni "Johnny" Gambino, and Robert "Bobby" Vernace while top leadership remains in prison. The Gambino crime family now claims 260 made members.

Bonanno - Created by Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno, orginally part of the Maranzano family, the Bonanno built itself up on gambling, loan-sharking, and racketeering. While Bonanno himself believed in solidarity and blood alliances, picking most of his crew from the same town of Castellamare del Golfo, Sicily, the family has been embroiled in infighting in the 1950s and 60s between supporters of Gaspar DiGregorio and those loyal to Bonanno. The war - also called The Banana Split - so disgusted The Commission that the family was stripped of its seat and Phillip "Rusty" Rastelli took over in 1973. Three renegade capos - Phillip Giaccone, Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera - plotted to overthrow Rastelli, but were murdered by Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero and his capo Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano. Sonny Black had become friendly with new-comer Donnie Brasco, who was actually FBI agent Joe Pistone. Pistone's story was dramatized in the movie Donnie Brasco. Although times looked bleak for the family, Joseph "Big Joe" Massino, who became boss in 1991, tried to reverse their fortunes by turning their revenue generation towards drug trafficking. It had the opposite effect, in that it brought in the attention of drug task forces on all mob families. Massino would become a police informant, helping along numerous convictions against many if not most made members of the family. Today, Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna is acting boss, taking orders from higher-ups in prison, but now faces deportation. The family claims 150 made members.

Colombo - Formerly known as the Profaci family, it was founded by Joe Profaci. The family involved itself in labor rackets, extortion, gambling, hijacking and loan sharking. Profaci faced no serious challenges to his leadership (thanks in part to his close ties to the Bonanno family) until Larry Gallo, Joey Gallo and Albert Gallo, instigated by the Gambino family, kidnapped prominent members of the family including underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joe Colombo, demanding changes in profit sharing in return for their release. The Gallo gang would be chipped away by murders and arrests over time. Profaci died of cancer in 1962 and Magliocco rose to power. When Joe Bonanno plotted to murder the heads of the Genovese, Gambino and Lucchese families, Joe Colombo though it was a bad idea, and warned Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese of the plans. In exchange for his loyalty, the Commission named Joe Colombo the new boss of the family. Ironically, Colombo would found the Italian-American Civil Rights League in the early 1970s to defend Italian Americans from what he saw as prejudice at the hands of the law enforcement authorities. Colombo would be gunned down in 1971, and left in a vegetative state. A power struggle ensued, and the family's ill fortunes were exacerbated by the Mafia Commission trial of the mid-1980s. Today, Carmine "Junior" Persico, 76, runs the family from federal prison in North Carolina. The family has been greatly weakened and 91 year-old family Underboss John "Sonny" Franzese, released from prison late last year, along with acting boss Thomas Gioeli and captain Dino Calabro all face trials this year, and could be looking at life imprisonment if convicted.

Lucchese - The Lucchese crime family started during the First World War under Gaetano "Tom" Reina, who controlled ice distribution in New York. In the 1920s, Reina became an ally of Joseph Masseria. Reina considered switching over to Maranzano, and when news of his planned betrayal reached Masseria, he had Reina killed. This enraged Reina lieutenant Gaetano "Tommy" Gagliano and Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese, who defected to Maranzano. Lucchese would become head of the Reina crime family after the Castellammarese War. From there, the family built themselves on labor and construction racketeering, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, hijacking, fraud, fencing and murder for hire. Lucchese himself became involved with the Teamster's Union as well as racketeering around New York's Idlewild Airport (known today as JFK Airport). Amazingly, Lucchese spent 44 years in organized crime without a single conviction, dying of heart failure in 1967. The family was then taken over by Carmine "Gribbs" Tramunti, who spearheaded a massive East Coast heroin distribution network known as the French Connection. When Tramunti was convicted in 1974, Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo - a close associate of Jimmy Hoffa - took over and involved himself further in union activities. The 1980s were a tumultuous period for the family. In 1986, Vittorio "Vic" Amuso and Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, seized control of the Lucchese family. When the two demanded their New Jersey faction pay 50% tribute, the faction refused, prompting the bosses to order their New York crew to "whack Jersey". This resulted in an internal war that claimed many lives, but also a number of botched hits, with many turning informant to protect their own lives. In April 2006, it was revealed that two respected New York City police detectives were also working as hired hitmen and informants for Anthony Casso during the 1980s and early 1990s before they both retired from local law enforcement. Vittorio "Vic" Amuso, 73, remains the official Boss of the Lucchese crime family despite serving a life sentence. A three man ruling panel, Joseph "Joey Dee" DiNapoli, 71, Aniello "Neil" Migliore, 73, and Matthew Madonna, 72, has been running the family for the past few years. They currently have 100 made members.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (67 comments total) 196 users marked this as a favorite
Ayyyy ... these are all legitimate businessmen...

Seriously, though, GREAT post!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:55 PM on May 14, 2009

I've been wanting to see actual maps of their respective territories, over the years, or good descriptions from which I can make/publish maps. Anyone willing to help?
posted by The Giant Squid at 2:02 PM on May 14, 2009

Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab
posted by R. Mutt at 2:03 PM on May 14, 2009

Don't ever take sides with anyone against The Family...
posted by Joe Beese at 2:06 PM on May 14, 2009

Out of curiosity, was Kitty Genovese related to the Genovese family?
p/s Great post.
posted by WalterMitty at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2009

Ah, and here's more on the two NY cops who worked for the Lucchese family.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:33 PM on May 14, 2009

Awesome post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:36 PM on May 14, 2009

Got the Genovese sayin' 'Who the fuck is that dude?'
posted by box at 2:37 PM on May 14, 2009

Holy slice and a coke. What a great post.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:47 PM on May 14, 2009

uh, geez, Marisa, you, uh, seem to know a lot about all this.
posted by mwhybark at 2:55 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's just, we hear names like Donnie Brasco, Jimmy Hoffa, Bugsy Siegel and all, but a lot of what we attribute to mob-related things in popular culture - right down to Tony Soprano's panic attacks - can be traced back to these five "families". On further reading, finding out that they were all borne from one central point event I thought was pretty cool.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:59 PM on May 14, 2009

Awesome post, all the connections are coming into focus.
But I have a question - in the picture posted by Joe Beese, is W wearing presidential seal cowboy boots? What a douche.
I can only hope that my tax money did not pay for those.
posted by Capt Jingo at 3:01 PM on May 14, 2009

fascinating post right up my ally.
posted by dabitch at 3:01 PM on May 14, 2009

Great post, but shhh, we must never speak of these things.
posted by msali at 3:03 PM on May 14, 2009

this post sucks. what the fuck, couldn't you do even a little bit of research or provide us with even a couple of supporting links? fucking single link posts.
posted by shmegegge at 3:11 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I hear Moe Green is out at the Tropicana.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:17 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Paul Vario was a caporegime in the Lucchese family; his crew included James Burke, who hijacked trucks carrying cargo from JFK. In 1978, Burke and his associates stole $5 million in cash and $875,000 in jewels from a Lufthansa vault at Kennedy airport. Burke's friend Henry Hill wrote Wiseguy, which was the basis for GoodFellas.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:21 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Waste management.

Fantastic post, Marisa
posted by jokeefe at 3:27 PM on May 14, 2009

According to the Godfather wiki, the Five Families are Corleone (based on the Genovese family), Barzini (Bonnano), Tattaglia (Gambino), Stracci (Colombo), and Cuneo (Lucchese).
posted by kirkaracha at 3:45 PM on May 14, 2009

Yep, nice one Marisa. I love reading about this stuff. It's part of that unofficial history of the US that you never heard about in grade school. Maybe if they'd have covered this in US History I wouldn't have cut so much.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:46 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

You know, Marisa, if you'd looked, I'm sure you could've found a YouTube clip that would've pretty much covered all this.

But "Marisa"... that's an Italian name right?

Oh, and, great post. Thank you!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:21 PM on May 14, 2009

Used to know a girl who was somehow connected to Little Nicky Scarfo, head of the Philly Mob back in the 1980s. Seemed like every other weekend she was going to the funeral of one family member after another. She was a very morbid girl, dark sense of humor. Reminds me a lot of Meadow Soprano, actually.
posted by scalefree at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2009

awesome post, thanks so much, Marisa!
posted by madamjujujive at 4:57 PM on May 14, 2009

Great post and amazing work. I long looked for such a summary. So far, this has got to be the post of the year!
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 5:16 PM on May 14, 2009

I feel as though I should print these all out, pin them to the wall, and then tie them to together in a cat's cradle of colored yarn depending on their connection. I should then stare at them intently while muttering "something doesn't add up" and kicking boxes of manila folders in fits of frustration until my significant other tearfully tells me my obsession is destroying our relationship.

I also feel I watch too many mob movies.
posted by Freon at 5:43 PM on May 14, 2009 [11 favorites]

This is really a terrific post. To expand a bit on Joe Massino, he was known as the "Last Don," since at the time he was the only "official" head of one of the NY families who wasn't in prison. For a long time, he had taken the opposite tack from Joe Colombo, who liked to claim that the mafia didn't exist and was just an anti-Italian slur. (There's a little bit of this in Godfather II during the Senate investigation.) Massino more or less admitted that the mob existed, but liked to claim it was just a social/community organization. Even during his trial in 2004, he basically acknowledged he was head of the Bonnano family.

He was convicted on all eleven counts, including seven murder. After that (supposedly because Ashcroft threatened him with the death penalty), he started cooperating with federal investigators.

A couple of famous "restaurant-related" deaths are also mentioned in your links. Paul Castellano gunned down outside of Sparks Steak House on John Gotti's orders in the 80s. And Joe Gallo was murdered at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy in the early 70s. For some reason, my mom always points out the restaurant when we go down there!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:58 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Joe Gallo! There's a Bob Dylan song about him.
posted by box at 6:06 PM on May 14, 2009

"But I have a question - in the picture posted by Joe Beese, is W wearing presidential seal cowboy boots? "


"I can only hope that my tax money did not pay for those."

Their donated by the maker, RJ's Boot Company.
posted by Mitheral at 6:24 PM on May 14, 2009

According to the RZA, Wu Tang ran guns for the Gambinos, (possibly including after they were famous recording artists, using their tours to distribute the guns nationally) this being the impetus for their "Wu Gambino" alter-egos on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:44 PM on May 14, 2009

Don't ever take sides with anyone against The Family...

Whoa, check out W's boots!
posted by jpdoane at 6:45 PM on May 14, 2009

More about the Wu thing here and here.
posted by box at 6:47 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm typically uninterested in all things Mafiosi, but this is one of the best posts I've ever seen on this site.
posted by Amanojaku at 7:18 PM on May 14, 2009

This is a great work of speculative fiction, Marisa.

Please write a sequel regarding the Chicago, Providence, Philly and New Jersey families.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:27 PM on May 14, 2009

The American Mafia doesn't begin and end with the Five Families - you've got the Philly Mob, also known as the Bruno or Scarfo crime family, with its own bloody and dysfunctional past, and its own song (Springsteen's Atlantic City) that kicks "Joey"'s ass. Wikipedia covers the high points, but George Anastasia puts you right in the front passenger seat with cold steel behind your ear.

Chicago Outfit, represent?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:51 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you go to Chrysler's website and take a look at their car offerings, you'll note one thing: they all look like vehicles Tony Soprano would drive. Even the PT Cruiser looks like a soft take on Al Capone.

The past three CEOs of Chrysler were all of Italian heritage. Maybe even Sicilian!

They successfully exorted a shitload of money from the government. Twice.

And they're 55% owned by the union. Said union was, if I'm not mistaken, Jimmy Hoffa's.

So... is Chrysler a mob-owned attempt at "going legit"?

I'm only half serious.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on May 14, 2009

Yeah, the Philly and Chicago mob definitely intrigue me. Even more so is the role Jewish immigrants played in organized crime. They've been marginalized in history books to the hired guns of Murder, Inc or Vegas, but there were some heavy hitters in New York. Dutch Schultz's story is a fascinating one in particular.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:59 PM on May 14, 2009

I'm from Springfield, Missouri, a small city down in the southwest corner of Missouri (I'm posting from there right now, in fact, visiting parents for the weekend). It has very few claims to fame, only two I can think of right now: Cashew Chicken was invented here, and the city is also home to a medical center for federal prisoners, meaning that occasionally some noteworthy criminals come here to die.

Several years back, some friends of my parents we'll call Bob and Carol went to dinner at the local Outback Steakhouse. The place was packed, so they went to the bar to wait for a table. By the time Bob was on his second see-through, he had struck up a conversation with a young man at the bar who was impeccably dressed in a bespoke suit, not a hair out of place. By the quality (and flashiness, truth be told) of his suit, Bob correctly surmised that he was not a fellow Ozarker.

"You from out of town?" he asked.

"Yeah," the young man said, "for a few days."

"Here on business?"

"I'm here to visit my uncle. He's got cancer and isn't doing well, and I wanted to come say goodbye to him before he dies."

"Sorry to hear that. This isn't exactly a small town, but any chance I might know who he is?"

The young man seemed amused by the question. "Yeah, you could say that. My name's Nick Gambino. My uncle's John Gotti."

Bob's not known for his tact even when he's sober, and he's not terribly well known for being sober, either. So the next question out of his mouth was one that no sane Ozarker would ever think to ask:

"So. You packing a gun?"

Gambino laughed. "No, not today," he said. For some reason he took a shine to Bob, gave him a card with his cell number on it, invited Bob to call him if he and Carol wanted to go to dinner some night that week.

When my dad told me the story, I asked if they called him. "Shit no," Dad said. "Carol wouldn't let him. Sumbitch's first question after he found out the guy was a gangster was whether he was packing a goddamn gun. Can you imagine what he'd ask him after three more see-throughs?"

A disappointing end to the story, but probably the only healthy one for him.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:26 PM on May 14, 2009 [21 favorites]

Chrysler is also sort of the most American of car companies, these days. The awful mileage and mediocre safety and reliability, the fake Jeeps, the vagina trucks, the PT Cruiser, the Neon (Hi!), the minivans, the LeBaron, the K-car... there's a lot of mediocrity there, is all I'm sayin'.
posted by box at 8:29 PM on May 14, 2009

Also, this is an excellent post. Thank you.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:29 PM on May 14, 2009

The mob is pretty mediocre. No surprise their cars would be.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 PM on May 14, 2009

what the hell is a vagina truck?

I feel as though I should print these all out, pin them to the wall, and then tie them to together in a cat's cradle of colored yarn depending on their connection.

My actual urge is to do that, and cross reference it with failing bars and nightclubs in the '80s that hosted hardcore shows on their last legs, and then draw up a master list of musicians that played those clubs back then, and then review that list for currently-respected-and-influential songwriters.

Then I would burn my notes.
posted by mwhybark at 9:02 PM on May 14, 2009

Even when the Blue was plagued by one-liner YouTube links this would be an awesome post. Nowadays it's probably the best entry in the last 12 months.
posted by nkyad at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry.. was\wasn't
posted by nkyad at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2009

Remind me never to cross a guy whose nickname is Gaspipe.
posted by stargell at 9:20 PM on May 14, 2009

Great post.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Cosa Nostra isn't broadly Italian but merely Sicilian. And it's probably not the most destructive or dangerous crime network in Italy, either; the excellent recent film Gomorra documents well the effects of the much more treacherous and insidious Camorra, a loose ring of clans led by bosses. The Camorra is worse than the Sicilian mob chiefly because it lacks any of the rules of the Sicilians; it's a common saying that, unlike in Sicily, if you kill a Camorra boss and the heads of a clan, the surviving members will form ten clans, each with a separate head, since there's really no formal power structure; it's all in whoever manages to wrest control.

All these archaic and quaint ideas about honor and loyalty... they make the Sicilian system almost attractive. The Camorra runs business from Brazil to Portugal to Spain, Germany, and Africa in addition to Italy, and all without any real ideals or values.
posted by koeselitz at 1:53 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey! What about mobs from elsewhere? It'd be SO COOL if other crime organisations/ families/ clans/ tribes could be as extensively researched and, like, posted on the blue. Like, say, the Japanese yakuza, or the Hong Kong triads, or maybe those Columbian drug cartels.

My experience of organised crime is largely limited to those in movies and videogames (GTA!) so I'm really out of my depth. One would imagine that the best source material for some of these organisations would be in their native language as well... I'm rambling.

Is organised crime a universal phenomenon? I mean, you've got the Italian mobs, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Russians, the South Americans... how about in Africa? Or do they just become warlords instead? There are gangs everywhere there's human society - they're not so different from any other cooperative enterprise other than illegality and possibly less aversion to violence - but is the level of organisation of the Five Families less common? Or am I just not looking hard enough? Are there German mobsters? English? Canadian?

I come from Singapore, where noteworthy mobsters are very rare (or at least covered in such a shiny patina of legitimacy that they are as much businessmen as mobsters). So I am very curious and also very very ignorant about these things.
posted by WalterMitty at 3:54 AM on May 15, 2009

No Prescott/GHW/George W?
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on May 15, 2009

Vagina trucks.
posted by box at 4:41 AM on May 15, 2009

As I understand it, the Patriarca Mafia in Boston were mostly pushed out to Providence, thanks in no small part to the FBI teaming up with non-Mafia organized crime groups.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:40 AM on May 15, 2009

Said union was, if I'm not mistaken, Jimmy Hoffa's.

Hoffa was a Teamster.
posted by drezdn at 5:48 AM on May 15, 2009

Even more so is the role Jewish immigrants played in organized crime. They've been marginalized in history books to the hired guns of Murder, Inc or Vegas, but there were some heavy hitters in New York.

Like the Grandaddy of them all, Meyer Lansky.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:50 AM on May 15, 2009

And Joe Gallo was murdered at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy in the early 70s.

I grew up down the street from Umberto's. Whenever I'd take someone around for the tour of the neighborhood it was great to say:

"Here's where we get cannolis, this place has the best lemon ice, all the waiters in there are 90 years old, but they got great veal and here's where you go if you want to get blown all over your linguini clams by some dude with a grease gun."

John Gotti gave me a bag of rainbow cookies once, impeccable dresser, a little heavy on the cologne. My dad used to ride his bike in laps around Mulberry street where the Ravenite social club was, until he was politely asked to "stop fuckin' peddling around the block all the time, you're making us nuts you crazy bastard."

It really was like living in a movie.

Great post.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:08 AM on May 15, 2009 [7 favorites]

There is no such thing as 'The Mafia', and I for one salute the independent Italian-American businessmen of our great nation.

With apologies to Conan O'Brien
posted by ob1quixote at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, one of the things to come out of the FBI going after the Patriarcas was the first surveillance tape of a Mafia initiation rite.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:26 AM on May 15, 2009

Times for the families get really rough in the future, when the Families have to call in a freelance android assassin to take on Voodoo Ben's army of zombie dinosaurs.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:55 AM on May 15, 2009

Why hello there half-edited comment! How's your redundancy and mixed capitalization doing?
posted by FatherDagon at 9:56 AM on May 15, 2009

As I understand it, the Patriarca Mafia in Boston were mostly pushed out to Providence, thanks in no small part to the FBI teaming up with non-Mafia organized crime groups.

Well, that and a well-placed microphone. In a previous life I used to work at the North End restaurant that the Angiulos used to operate. I never met Gennaro (though I hear he's finally out of prison) but I had the unpleasant experience of meeting his wife a couple of times.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ah, C_D, yer makin' me nostalgic for North End pasta joints. And Wino, that's awesome, Mulberry Street is a scene-and-a-half.
posted by mwhybark at 11:12 AM on May 15, 2009


Here in Vancouver, we're currently in the midst of a gang war that has involved multiple shootings and deaths since January. The wiki link is outdated and the timeline only runs until March; the latest deaths were two teenage boys who were dealing drugs. They weren't even out of high school yet.
posted by jokeefe at 1:06 PM on May 15, 2009

My dad had an inexplicable fascination with the mafia for a little while. I would keep seeing history books in the car that we was working his way through. Years later he told me that he had unraveled a mystery in the family tree. He said he'd gotten a little suspicious at his nephew's wedding when a very rich well-dressed older man who he had never seen came to drop off a gift "from the family". The nephew's mother, my dad's sister-in-law, had a maiden name similar to "Profaci" but spelled slightly differently. According to my dad, she's a direct descendant of the Profaci crime family. Joe Profaci might even be her grandfather, something like that. Who knew.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:40 PM on May 15, 2009

[…considers what a Canadian Mafia would be. Probably involves a lot of apologizing and griping about the weather…]
posted by five fresh fish at 1:47 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Wikipedia's page on Jewish-American organized crime has a lot of info. In addition to the already-mentioned Meyer Lansky, Dutch Shultz, and Bugsy Siegel, Arnold "The Brain" Rothstein is one of the best-known Jewish-American gangsters. He inspired Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls and is widely credited with fixing the 1919 World Series. Once Upon a Time in America deals with Jewish-American organized crime.

Out of curiosity, was Kitty Genovese related to the Genovese family?

No. "Vincent Genovese, a brother who is a sales manager for an electronics company, had to testify that his family was not connected to the Mafia."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:33 PM on May 15, 2009

Brilliantly created and informative post. Thanks.

Organised crime, WASP style.
posted by nickyskye at 6:15 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey Mods. Nice site ya got here. Whaddya call it? Metafilter? Nice. Listen, me and my buddy Joey Kneecaps was talking, and we agreed dat it would be a shame if anything bad was to "happen" around here. Joey came up wit' a proposition:

Ya got a nice lookin' sidebar up there on the front page, right? Well me and Joey think dat dis here post would look real pretty up at the top of that thing. Whaddya say? Ya wouldn't wanna dissapoint Joey, now would ya?
posted by Optamystic at 4:08 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I haven't read it, but a Jewish friend of mine speaks well of "Tough Jews", a book about Jewish mobsters.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:54 AM on May 17, 2009

Also, the Federation of American Scientists posted a Congressional Research Service (pdf)
posted by rmd1023 at 7:01 AM on May 17, 2009

Scientist Mobsters, that's what we want more of.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:44 PM on May 17, 2009

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