American Mafia

COSA NOSTRA, ITALIAN-AMERICAN ORGANIZED CRIME

Even though the first recognized Italian-American organized criminal activity was the Black Hand Society of New Orleans, organized in the late 1800′s, it was New York City that hosted the fledging mysterious movement. Ellis Island and other U.S. ports of entry were considered the portals to freedom, an escape from oppression for many of our ancestors. Italian immigrants were no different. One major problem arose that was perplexing, the ability to communicate with other nationalities. Anglo-Saxon immigrants spoke fluent English and were better equipped to find and procure employment.

Also, the Italian-Americans, fearing the Irish-American police were forced to rely on each other for safety. They eventually developed the Cosa Nostra to combat and protect their community from Anglo-American interference.

The Cosa Nostra, modeled after the Italian Mafia became a force to be reckoned with. Its beginnings were due in part to the resistance of many Italians against the French who were in control of many of the peninsulas Italian City States. Limited success for the Italian-American movement turned altruism into apathy.

The very people it was supposed to protect became the victim. The shoemaker or the corner grocer was forced to pay homage and the hard earned wages were turned over to the shadowy figure that would pop in the place of business from time to time. By the 20′s, with prohibition a reality and the realization that organization and discipline would be necessary to prevent the numerous gangsters from making forays onto already claimed territory and killing each other off.

As we know it, the modern day Cosa Nostra was born and with it what has become probably the most powerful and ever present secret society to menace the world. Based largely on the structure of Roman Legions, the at first Sicilian-American sons, organized New York City, then spread north to Boston, south to Philadelphia and west to Chicago. Hijacking trucks, peddling home brew or smuggled alcohol from Canada and Britain spreading fear and terror in its wake. These were the talons of corruption of the Cosa Nostra.

Ironically, at the same time, the Cosa Nostra was spreading its wings, so was another group, Organized Labor. This group armed with the teachings of Mother Jones, Samuel Gompers and Eugene Debbs preached and rallied the wanting toilers and workers of United States. Better wages and work conditions were the cry heard in the sweatshops and employment lines of America.

The Cosa Nostra made its services available to the business leaders that beckoned the mobsters to become strike breakers and head busters. Acting on their behalf, the mob dished out punishment and fear throughout the rank and file of the wanting strikers. Many legitimate businesses were required to maintain a life long association and contribute company assets to the Cosa Nostra as the price for strike-breaking. By 1935, with the creation of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act), labor finally had the vehicle that was needed to make a significant impact on America. Little by little the Cosa Nostra started realizing the importance of the labor movement and by the end of World War II; it realized that its future lay with the now peaking contrivance of American workers.

The rise of union problems also increased with the blossoming memberships. To assist in stopping other unions from raiding territory and potential insurrectionist from making waves and winning support with the rank and file.
The Union Leader turned to his past enemy the Cosa Nostra for help. Little did the union official know the price for help would be a life long control of the local union? The eventual replacement of his position and direct control to a Cosa Nostra associate or relative would be the next step in the takeover process. By the late 1940′s, it became so paramount to the mob that advisers such as John Dio Guardi of the New York City Luchese family would visit other Cosa Nostra bastions around the country and explain how a takeover can be accomplished. Realizing that by controlling the Teamsters, Longshoreman and the Laborers, (who were then known as the International Hod Carriers and Common Laborers) many other unions would automatically come indirectly under Cosa Nostra influence.

Cosa Nostra leaders were also subject to insurrection and the control of union activity would prove to be most helpful in maintaining authority over Cosa Nostra members. Unions and the employers provided the Don and his Capo’s with plush jobs for the family soldiers. Millions of dollars of membership dues and benefit fund contributions were siphoned off for personal gain, and the ability to manipulate Collective Bargaining Agreements so that favored employers were not bound by the same regulations as the other signatory companies.

Political influence, the ability to elect the vote and financial asset wanting politician to office became commonplace. Influencing legislation at all levels of government and in many areas, even deciding who will be placed in Federal judgeships, and United States Attorneys was quite the norm.

This unseen government within a government was and is so powerful; the American public still remains skeptical on how much of their life is controlled and the financial burden that it carries because of its existence. Even armed with the revelations of Joe Valachi and other surfaced Cosa Nostra members and RICO statues, the extraction of mob influence remains quite difficult. Evolution and change has also changed the Cosa Nostra.

Knowing that direct exposure on influence peddling and criminal activity will lead to a life of incarceration and place its membership in a position of capture and possible cooperation with investigative authorities, the Cosa Nostra membership has burrowed itself into communicating and exercising control through well paid attorneys and legal business representatives, fully cognizant of the difficulty in implementing investigations and prying into everyday businessmen and legal council.