Italian Mafia The Mafia was first developed in Sicily in feudal times to protect the estates of landlords who were out of town. The word Mafia, derived from the Sicilian word, Mafioso, means family. Today, Mafia is a name which describes a loose association of criminal groups. These groups can be bound together by blood, oath or sworn secrecy. Many people had considered the Sicilian Mafia as the most ruthless mobsters of the twentieth century. By the nineteenth century, the Mafia had become known as a network of criminal thugs that dominated the Sicilian countryside.
Members of the Mafia were bound by Omerta. Omerta, an Italian word, stands for a strict code of conduct. The code include avoiding all contact or cooperation with authorities. In the beginning the Mafia had no centralized organization.
It consisted of many small groups. Each of these groups was considered as a district. And, each of these districts, had its own form of government. The Mafia had gained their strong-arm by using scare tactics amongst the people. By using these terroristic methods against peasants who could vote, the Mafia used this upper hand in placing themselves into political offices. They would achieve this in several communities.
Using this political power in their advantage, the Mafia was able to gain influence with police authorities and the ability to obtain legal access to weapons. Benito Mussolini was the premier-dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943. He was the founder and leader of Italian Fascism. Mussolini, along with his Facets government, was able to successfully suppress the Mafia during the time of World War II. However, after the war ended in 1945, the Mafia emerged and ruled once again. Over the next thirty years, the Sicilian Mafia was not only able to gain control Sicily, but all of Italy as well.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, America had the largest number of immigrants moving to the United States ever known There is a recorded three million Irish, four million Italians, and four million Jews that immigrated to the United States during the later half of the nineteenth century. People immigrated for a number of reasons. Many of them dreamed of leaving behind their old worlds. Worlds of oppression, fear, and crime. Unfortunately, this dream was shattered for many of the immigrants. For those who migrated to Chicago, several found themselves living in urban ghettos filled with dangerous and deadly circumstances.
Crime, along with the Mafia was brought into the new world. Due to the language barriers, cultures and people did not mix. The Italians remained with, socialized with, and committed crimes on other Italians within the Italian community. The Chicago Mafia remained in contact with the Mafia connections in Italy. Since each community had their own gang, there were several of them. There was the Chinese, Irish, Jewish, and Italian gangs.
Each gang had their own style. For example: there was the Dead Rabbits gang. They were known for attacking regular civilians in broad daylight. They got their name by the unforgettable dead rabbits they carried on sticks while beating people up.
There was also the Italian Mafia. They were recognized by the "Black Hand". The "Black Hand" was a letter with a black hand print on it. The letter would simply ask for money.
Every Italian knew that if you refused to pay, it would cost you your life. The only way to be immune to the terrifying "Black Hand" was to be a part of the Mafia. Even Italian tenor Enrico Corus o received a "Black Hand" letter demanding two thousand dollars. Without thought or hesitation, Enrico paid in full. However, when he received a second "Black Hand" letter demanding an additional fifteen thousand dollars, Enrico went to the police. Because of this set up, authorities were able to arrest two men in connection with the Mafia.
For the next three years, Enrico feared for his life, and had several guards escort him everywhere he went. At the time, Johnny Torrio was the godfather, or leader of the Italian Mafia in Chicago. The prohibition had begun. Now not only did the underworld specialize in crimes such as prostitution, and gambling, but in illegal liquor, better known as bootlegging, too. He believed in only using force when necessary. There were several gang feuds.
Torrio was able to regulate gang wars by allowing each gang to self govern their own territory. When trouble arouse the gangs agreed to pull together and fight off any interference's in their businesses. When the new governor of Chicago took office, Torrio attempted to buy him off. Governor Devel refused. He came back at Torrio with closing down his club. Eventually the Mafia was defeated once again and forced out of the inner city of Chicago, onto the onto the suburban outskirts.
Torrio soon went back to Italy and lift an outgoing young Italian by the name of Al Scarface Capone in Charge. Some people to this day feel that leaving Capone in charge was a bad idea. Capone received his nickname Scarface due to a scar on the side of his face. He obtained this scar during a knife fight in a bar over a prostate. Unlike Torrio, Capone felt it necessary to use violence when ever possible. He was a gambler, drinker, and a cigar smoking man.
Capone was a loud man who knew what he wanted, and that was more. He knew how to get it. He hired a group of personalized thugs that consisted of hitman, exstorsionists, and dealers. With these men and Capones sudden power, he was able to eliminate almost all competition. His biggest triumph in defeating the competition was what we know as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.
At the time Bugs Morran was the middle man to the liquor needed for Capones bootlegging operation. When Morran raised the price of the alcohol several times Capone got fed up. Like usual, they arranged to meet so Capone, or one of his associates, could give Morran and his gang the money in return for liquor that would be delivered later. However, things did not go as planned. Capone had set Morran gang up.
Authorities were there and a Coors of gun fire began. Seven were left by the police car for dead. Only one man survived, but he never did say whether the gunman was a police official, and if not, who it was. Authorities were able to arrest and convict Capone of income tax invasion in 1931. He was given eleven years in prison. In 1939 however, he was released on parole.
Crippled by syphilis, Capone spent the rest of his life in his mansion in Miami Beach, Florida. A great contribution to the Chicago Mafia died alone in 1947. In the early 1980's, the Italian government launched an anti-Mafia campaign throughout all of Italy. Not only did this lead to a number of arrests and trials, but it also was the reason for several assignations of key law-enforcement officials whom were in retaliation. For the past two decades, both America and Italy have been cracking down on the organized crime group known as the Mafia. Criminal activities concerning those involved in the Mafia have declined dramatically.
The modern underworld crime of today consists of business men and women with a strong knowledge of computers. Old world ways such as killing, riots, and vendetta have been done away with. Today's "mobsters" are highly educated extortionists dressed in suites. The old ways of organized crime will never be the same again. The desire, need, brutality, wisdom, and style of what we know as the Italian Mafia only exists in books and movies. In my opinion, the time of the Prohibition was, and always will be the most recognizable time of the underworld because of the Italian Mafia.