The American Mafia was an organized crime web that operated across the United States, especially in Chicago and New York. This crime group rose to power by doing illegal alcohol business during the Prohibition era of 1920. After that the gangsters expanded their criminal endeavors, from illegal gambling to drug trafficking. The violent crimes and secret rituals of American gangsters become popular in late 1920s. Later the government imposed anti-racketeering laws to weaken the mafia, but they remain in business even today.
Prohibition, immigration and great depression
During early 20th century, group of Italian craftsmen, farmers and unskilled labors migrated to the United States in search of better job opportunities. Most of these refugees were law-abiding, but, some of them were lawbreakers who formed gangs and started preying on people of their own communities.
During the prohibition era of 1920, government banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic products. This gave rise to Italian-American gangsters. These groups were expert in illicit liquor business. They successfully converted themselves into criminal enterprises by money laundering, smuggling, and bribing public officials and police.
The American Gangsters get organized
In 1931, Salvatore Maranzano (Sicilian born crime boss) came out and crowned himself the “boss of all bosses”, in United States. Unhappy with Salvatore’s power grab, Lucky Luciano (a rising mobster) had him murdered. Luciano was the masterminded behind the formation of the organization of mafia. This organization was known as the Commission. It serves like board of directors for the American gangsters, which by then involved twenty crime families across the nation.
New York had become the capital of organized-crime, divided between 5 crime families. Each of the 5 New York crime families received a support of the Commission when it was established. The role of Commission was to set policies and solve disputes among families. Typically, crime family of American gangsters was organized in a hierarchy controlled by a boss, who ruled with unchallenged authority.
Mafia families keep adding more and more members and played with American laws. This came to halt during 1970s. In 1970, government passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which proved to be a helpful to government in bringing Mafia down. This act allowed prosecutors to probe crime families and their sources of income, both legal and illegal.