Italy on Tuesday launched a crackdown on organized crime in the south of the country, deploying more than a thousand police in a hunt for members of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.
Helicopters, sniffer dogs and teams specializing in detecting bunkers and other hideaways joined the operation.
It targeted 116 individuals from 24 crime families, sought for criminal association, extortion, fraud, illegal possession of arms and other offences.
Based on tightly knit clans, the ‘Ndrangheta has its stronghold in Calabria, the toe of Italy, although recent arrests have shown it is also operating in northern Italy and has expanded to other European countries.
It is widely believed to have outstripped the better-known Sicilian and Neapolitan mafias through its successful cocaine trafficking from Latin America.
The American Mafia is a highly organized Italian-American criminal society. The organization is often referred to by members as Cosa Nostra, our thing. The Mafia in the United States emerged in impoverished Italian immigrant neighborhoods in New York’s East Harlem (or Italian Harlem), Lower East Side, and Brooklyn. It also emerged in other areas of the East Coast of the United States and several other major metropolitan areas (such as New Orleans) during the late 19th century and early 20th century, following waves of Italian immigration especially from Sicily and other regions of Southern Italy.
It has its roots in the Sicilian Mafia but is a separate organization in the United States. Neapolitan, Calabrian, and other Italian criminal groups in the U.S., as well as independent Italian-American criminals, eventually merged with Sicilian Mafiosi to create the modern pan-Italian Mafia in North America. Today, the American Mafia cooperates in various criminal activities with Italian organized crime groups, such as the Sicilian Mafia, Camorra in Naples, and ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria. The most important unit of the American Mafia is that of a family, as the various criminal organizations that make up the Mafia are known. Despite the name of family to describe the various units, they are not familial groupings.
The Mafia is currently most active in the Northeastern U.S., especially in New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New England (especially in Boston and Providence) while also being active in Chicago and Florida. At the Mafia’s peak, there were at least 26 cities around the United States with Cosa Nostra families, with many more offshoots and associates in other cities. There are five main New York City Mafia families, known as the Five Families: the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno, and Colombo families.
At its peak, the Mafia dominated organized crime in the U.S. Each crime family has its own territory, except for the Five Families, and operates independently, while nationwide coordination is overseen by the Commission, which consists of the bosses of each of the strongest families. Today, most of the Mafia’s activities are contained to the Northeastern United States and Chicago, where they continue to dominate organized crime, despite the increasing numbers of other crime groups.
By many accounts, the NY Mafia has had somewhat of a resurgence in the last few years as the feds have turned the majority of their attention and resources over to the fight against terrorism. The Five Families were severely crippled by years of RICO indictments and were clearly on the ropes when the 9/11 attacks changed the playing field. The mafia families in New York may never again reach the heights of power of its heyday but they have proven over the years to have an uncanny ability to adapt and survive. Many of New York’s Cosa Nostra families now have new and stable leadership in place although some families have benefited from this new era more than others.
For years the Genovese crime family often referred to as the “Ivy League” of organized crime has been the most powerful of the Five Families. But as this latest mafia resurgence takes root and stability sets in could we see a new family name sitting atop the power structure in New York? The Genovese family is the oldest and still considered to be the largest of the NY families with influence over vast criminal activities both in NY and elsewhere across the country. According to multiple sources, veteran mobster Liborio “Barney” Bellomo has taken the reigns as the families new boss or acting boss. Bellomo is well respected and considered by many to be one of the more powerful mafioso on the streets of New York today. But even with a strong leader once again atop the mountain and the families continued devotion to the code of Omerta it may not be enjoying the same success currently as one of its rivals.
The Gambino crime family has historically been one of the more powerful of the New York mafia families in both size rivaling the mighty Genovese family and influence. The Gambino family is once again on the rise and may be the family that has benefited most from this ongoing mafia revival. Esteemed author and mafia expert Selwyn Raab believe one aspect of this new mafia resurgence is the increase in influence and power by Zips (nickname given to Sicilian newcomers) and Zip factions within the American mafia families in New York. The new Gambino family leadership which includes Francesco “Frank” Cali, Domenico “Italian Dom” Cefalù, and John Gambino among others have strong Sicilian ties and the family currently, maintains one of strongest zip factions in NY. Many believe these old school ties and a newly renewed old school approach have made the Gambino’s the most powerful family in NY overtaking the Genovese’s.
It is clear that the Gambino family currently has its most powerful and influential leadership groups in decades at the helm. Frank Cali has long been a rising star in New York mafia circles benefiting from his upbringing by mob elders including Cefalù and his uncle John Gambino along with his strong family ties to the old country. The strong Sicilian ties have undoubtedly given the Gambino family a solid foundation in the lucrative drug trade at least for now which is a major source of income for the NY families. According to recent reports, the Gambino family continues to operate outside of New York including having a heavy influence over what remains of the New Jersey mafia family. The other mob families in New York which include the Bonanno family, Lucchese family and Colombo family also seem to be rebounding just at a slower pace than these two mob powerhouses.