Breakdown of Italy's Four Major Mafias

When you think of Italian organized crime, you think of the Mafia.

You're likely thinking of Cosa Nostra, the name of America's Mafia, as well as the older Sicilian variation.

Bernard Provenzano, Cosa Nostra boss.
The term Mafia essentially refers to several separate organized crime entities.





The Sicilian Cosa Nostra successfully transitioned to America in the early 19th century and firmly planted its roots. The Morello family was the first American Mafia family, reaching its pinnacle in around 1908, when Little Italy was still a huge component of lower Manhattan.

In Italy, iaddition to Sicily's Cosa Nostra, there is the Camorra, based in the Campania region near Naples; the 'Ndrangheta, based in Calabria; and the Sacra Corona Unita in Apulia, the heel of the Italian boot.  (There are additional groups, including a Cosa Nostra offshoot.)
They were estimated to have generated 135 billion euros in 2009, which is almost 9% of Italy's gross domestic product.

Italy's authorities focused on smashing the Sicilian Cosa Nostra in earnest following the 1992 car-bomb assassinations of two highly respected judges, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Sicily's Cosa Nostra has waned in power in recent years, while the 'Ndrangheta and Camorra were on the rise, with huge cash reserves. Both groups are primarily focused on drugs, pumping their illicit profits into legitimate businesses such as hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, construction firms and waste disposal.

The most lucrative criminal rackets are trafficking in drugs, people, weapons and contraband.

Then there's the Mafia mainstays of gambling, forgery and illegal labor supplying, plus extortion and loan sharking.


Little-Know Mafia Group

Sacra Corona Unita occasionally hits the headlines in Italy and around the world but for the most part is a lesser-known criminal brotherhood.

Formed in the early 1980s, it too has a code of conduct, as well as a hierarchical structure, such as the Cosa Nostra and Ndrangheta have (and the Cammora doesn't). One factor differentiating the group is its willingness to work with independent street gangs.

Located in Puglia, in the "heel" of the Italian boot, it is among the most recent Mafia group established. 

Camorrista Raffaele Cutolo founded the Sacra Corona Unita (SCU) as a breakaway splinter group when he expanded operations into Puglia, gaining access to the Adriatic seaport. 

Cutolo (born December 20, 1941) was said to be a charismatic leader who built this organization to "renew" the Camorra. Various nicknames of his include "o Vangelo" (the gospel), "'o Principe" (the prince),"'o Professore" (the professor) and "'o Monaco" (the monk).

Apart from 18 months on the run, Cutolo has lived most of his life inside maximum-security jails or psychiatric prisons since 1963. He's been serving multiple life sentences for murder.


On one occasion it was a murdered SCU chieftain who owned a Siberian tiger who made global headlines.

Lucio Vetrugno apparently used the animal to impress friends and intimidate enemies. (Was he consciously aping Crazy Joe Gallo?) Vetrugno, who was shot and killed at his home on Dec. 22, 2011, owned the tiger for around 16 years, and kept it in a large cage on his estate.

Mob bosses in Italy have been found to own a range of "exotic" pets, including large crocodiles and at least one white python. They were seized in arrests.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Improbable Rise of a Gambino Associate Who Married Mafia Royalty

Michael DiLeonardo On the Gotti Reign

Shrewd Sicilian Helms Gambinos, Says Mikie Scars

A(nother) Real-life Wiseguy Played a Mobster on The Sopranos

When the Gambinos Dominated the Mafia's Infiltration of Wall Street

Who Really Killed Tommy DeSimone?

John Gotti at His Rhetorical Greatest

Hoodwinked: Restaurateur on Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Was a Mobster