Crime boss

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Al Capone was a crime boss during the Prohibition era. Al Capone in 1930.jpg
Al Capone was a crime boss during the Prohibition era.

A crime boss, also known as a don, gang lord, kingpin, godfather, or criminal mastermind, is a person in charge of a criminal organization. A boss typically has absolute or nearly absolute control over the other members of the organization, is greatly feared for their ruthlessness and willingness to take lives to exert their influence and profits from the criminal endeavours in which the organization engages. [1] [2]


Some groups may only have as little as two ranks (a boss and their soldiers). Other groups have a more complex, structured organization with many ranks and structure may vary with cultural background. Organized crime enterprises originating in Sicily differ in structure from those in mainland Italy. American groups may be structured differently from their European counterparts and Latino and African American gangs often have structures that vary from European gangs. The size of the criminal organization is also important, as regional or national gangs have much more complex hierarchies. [3]

Italian Mafia

Structure of Mafia crime family Mafia family structure tree.en.svg
Structure of Mafia crime family

The boss in the Sicilian and Italian-American Mafia is the head of the crime family and the top decision maker. Only the boss, underboss or consigliere can initiate an associate into the family, allowing them to become a made man. The boss can promote or demote family members at will, and has the sole power to sanction murders inside and outside the family. If the boss is incarcerated or incapacitated he places an acting boss who is responsible for running the crime family. When a boss dies the crime family members choose a new boss from inside the organization.

The typical structure within the Mafia in Sicily and America is usually as follows: [4]

A boss will typically put up layers of insulation between himself and his men so as to hinder police efforts to connect his orders to him. Whenever he issues orders, he does so either to his underboss, consigliere or capos. The orders are then passed down the line to the soldiers. This makes it difficult under most circumstances for the police to directly implicate a boss in a crime, since he almost never directly gives orders to the soldiers.

Mr Big

The term Mr Big is used within the underworld, and additionally during media reportings of persons associated with criminal activities, to refer to a leader of a body of persons functioning in the capacities of roles within organised crime. Sometimes bosses of the so-called gangland are referred to as being Mr Big, as for example when he could not be named for legal reasons. [10] The term implicitly indicates a degree of a possession of a higher intelligence of an individual. [11]

The term especially indicates the existence of involvement in what is known as big-time crime, which would include for example armed robbery, and the more organised aspects of careers within crime. [11] [12]

A 1945 dictionary of criminal slang in the USA lists Big Brains as "a gang-leader", but not Mr Big. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Castellammarese War was a bloody power struggle for control of the Italian-American Mafia that took place in New York City, New York, from February 1930 until April 15, 1931, between partisans of Joe "The Boss" Masseria and those of Salvatore Maranzano. The war's namesake was derived from the Sicilian town of Castellammare del Golfo, the birthplace of Maranzano. Maranzano's faction won, divided New York's crime families into the Five Families, and declared himself capo di tutti i capi. However, he was soon murdered in September 1931 on orders of Lucky Luciano, who established a power-sharing arrangement called The Commission, a group of Mafia families of equal stature, to avoid such wars in the future.

The Havana Conference of 1946 was a historic meeting of United States Mafia and Cosa Nostra leaders in Havana, Cuba. Supposedly arranged by Charles "Lucky" Luciano, the conference was held to discuss important mob policies, rules, and business interests. The Havana Conference was attended by delegations representing crime families throughout the United States. The conference was held during the week of December 22, 1946 at the Hotel Nacional. The Havana Conference is considered to have been the most important mob summit since the Atlantic City Conference of 1929. Decisions made in Havana resonated throughout US crime families during the ensuing decades.

The Bufalino crime family, also known as the Pittston crime family, Scranton Wilkes-Barre crime family, Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family, Northeastern Pennsylvania Mafia, or Scranton Mafia, was an Italian-American Mafia crime family active in Northeastern Pennsylvania, primarily in the cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Pittston. It is believed that the Bufalino crime family may no longer be active.

Consigliere is a position within the leadership structure of the Sicilian, Calabrian and American Mafia. The word was popularized in English by the novel The Godfather (1969) and its film adaptation. In the novel, a consigliere is an advisor or counselor to the boss, with the additional responsibility of representing the boss in important meetings both within the boss's crime family and with other crime families. The consigliere is a close, trusted friend and confidant, the mob's version of an elder statesman; he is an advisor to the boss in a Mafia crime family, and sometimes is his 'right-hand man'. By the very nature of the job, a consigliere is one of the few in the family who can argue with the boss, and is often tasked with challenging the boss when needed, to ensure subsequent plans are foolproof. In some depictions, he is devoid of ambition and dispenses disinterested advice. This passive image of the consigliere does not correspond with what little is known of real-life consiglieri.

The Corleone family are a group of fictional characters in the novels and the films of The Godfather series, created by Mario Puzo and first appearing in his 1969 novel The Godfather. They are an organized crime family originating from the Sicilian town of Corleone, and who are based in New York City.

Nicholas Corozzo American New York mobster

Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo is an American New York mobster who was the reputed acting boss of the Gambino crime family.

Caporegime Rank in the Mafia

A caporegime or capodecina, usually shortened to capo or informally referred to as "captain", is a rank used in the Mafia for a made member of an Italian crime family who heads a "crew" of soldiers and has major social status and influence in the organization. Caporegime is an Italian word, which is used to signify the head of a family in Sicily, but has now come to mean a ranking member, similar to captain or senior sergeant in a military unit. In general, the term indicates the head of a branch of an organized crime syndicate who commands a crew of soldiers and reports directly to the Don (Boss) or an Underboss or Streetboss. The shortened version "capo" has been used to refer to certain high-ranking members of Latin American drug cartels as well.

In the American and Sicilian Mafia, a made man is a fully initiated member of the Mafia. To become "made", an associate first must be Italian or of Italian descent and sponsored by another made man. An inductee will be required to take the oath of omertà, the Mafia code of silence and code of honor. After the induction ceremony, the associate becomes a "made man" and holds the rank of soldier in the Mafia hierarchy. Made men are the only ones who can rise through the ranks of the Mafia, from soldier to caporegime, consigliere, underboss, and boss.

This article is about events in organized crime in 1984.

Vittorio "Little Vic" Amuso is an American New York mobster and boss of the Lucchese crime family. He was described as a "Deadly Don" by Assistant United States Attorney Charles Rose. Amuso's reign is considered one of the bloodiest periods in American Mafia history during the late 1980s and early 1990s, alongside his former underboss and close protégé Anthony Casso, who turned informer against him in 1994. Since the death of Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico in March 2019, Amuso is currently the longest-serving crime family boss of the Five Families and American Mafia, dating back to 1987. Amuso has been serving a life sentence since 1992 and is currently allocated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Cumberland, in Maryland, on murder and racketeering charges.

Michele "Big Mike" Miranda was a longtime member and eventual consigliere of the Genovese crime family and one of the most powerful New York gangsters in the 1950s and 1960s.

Nicholas Angelo "Nicky Mouth" Santora was the reputed underboss of the Bonanno crime family.


A soldato or soldier is the first official level of both the American Mafia and the Sicilian Mafia in the formal Mafia hierarchy or cadre. The promotion to the rank of soldier is an elevation in the chain of command from the associate level. The associate, who is not an initiated member of the Mafia, must prove himself to the family and take the oath of Omertà in order to become an initiated made man and therefore rise to the rank of soldato.

Lucchese crime family One of the "Five Families" that dominates organized crime activities in New York City, US

The Lucchese crime family is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the American Mafia.

The American Mafia, commonly referred to in North America as the Italian-American Mafia, the Mafia, or the Mob, is a highly organized Italian-American criminal society and criminal organization. The organization is often referred to by its members as Cosa Nostra and by the American government as La Cosa Nostra (LCN). The organization's name is derived from the original Mafia or Cosa nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, with "American Mafia" originally referring simply to Mafia groups from Sicily operating in America, as the organization initially emerged as an American offshoot of the Sicilian Mafia. However, the organization gradually evolved into a separate entity partially independent of the original Mafia in Sicily, and it eventually encompassed or absorbed other Italian-American gangsters and Italian-American crime groups active in the United States and Canada that were not of Sicilian origin. In North America, it is often colloquially referred to as the Italian Mafia or Italian Mob, though these terms may also apply to the separate yet related Sicilian Mafia or other organized crime groups in Italy.

The Genovese crime family's New Jersey faction is a group of Italian-American mobsters within the Genovese crime family who control organized crime activities within the state of New Jersey. The New Jersey faction is divided into multiple crews each led by a different caporegimes who oversees illegal criminal activities in labor racketeering, illegal gambling, loansharking and extortion. Since the prohibition era the Genovese family's New Jersey faction has maintained a strong presence in the Northern Jersey area. A number of members within the New Jersey faction like Guarino "Willie" Moretti, Gerardo "Jerry" Catena and Louis "Bobby" Manna have held top leadership positions in the Genovese family. From the 1990s until his death in 2010, Tino "the Greek" Fiumara was one of the most powerful capos in the New Jersey faction.

This is a glossary of words related to the Mafia, primarily the Italian American Mafia and Sicilian Mafia.



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