Cosa Nostra: How Are The Five Mafia Families Faring?
The Five Mafia Crime Families are active in New York City. Salvatore Maranzano organised the five families in 1931 after winning the Castellammarese War.
From 1931, when Salvatore Maranzano founded the consortium, to 1970, when the United States approved the RICO Act, the Five Families were at their peak. This period spans nearly 40 years. The families still exist, but they are no longer as powerful as they once were.
Each family had a defined region, an organisational level, and they all answered to the same supreme governing body. Maranzano initially wanted to be the capo dei capi and have each family’s boss report to him.
However, this resulted in his murder in September, and The Commission, a ruling body created by Lucky Luciano to supervise all Mafia activities in the country and resolve disputes between families, took over. The leaders of the Buffalo crime family, the Chicago Outfit, and the Five Families were all represented. At the Valachi hearings in 1963, Joseph Valachi made the Five Families of New York City’s Five Families known to the public.
Since that time, a small number of other crime families have managed to ascend to a status equal to the Five Families, holding or sharing the unofficial title of Sixth Family.
Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Albert “Mad Hatter” Anastasia, Vito Genovese, Alfred Mineo, Willie Moretti, Joe Adonis, and Frank Costello were members of Masseria’s side. But, ruthless Sicilian mafioso Don Vito Cascio Ferro made the decision to compete for command of Mafia activities.
The forces of Masseria and Maranzano engaged in battle in the Castellammarese War on the surface. However, there was also a generational conflict between the “Young Turks,” a younger and more diverse Italian group who were more forward-thinking and willing to work more with non-Italians, and the old guard Sicilian leadership, known as the “Mustache Petes” for their long moustaches and old-world ways, such as refusing to do business with non-Italians.
His followers began to wonder if Masseria was even capable of reviving the Mafia in the modern era as a result of this strategy. This group, led by Luciano, wanted the war to end as soon as possible so they could get back to business because they thought it was needless.
Maranzano convened a gathering of crime lords in Wappingers Falls, New York, and proclaimed himself the leader of all lords. Maranzano reduced the rackets of the other families in favour of his own. Although Luciano seemed to agree with these modifications, he was only buying time before deposing Maranzano. Luciano had grown to believe that Maranzano was even more greedy and hidebound than Masseria had been, despite the fact that he was a little more progressive than Masseria.
By September 1931, Maranzano had come to recognise that Luciano posed a threat, so he recruited Irish mobster Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll to assassinate him. Yet Lucchese warned Luciano that his death was imminent. Maranzano summoned Luciano, Genovese, and Costello to his Manhattan office at 230 Park Avenue on September 10, 1931.
Luciano made the decision to go first since he believed Maranzano had intended to kill them. He sent four Jewish gangsters, whose faces Maranzano’s employees had never seen, to Maranzano’s office. Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, two Jewish underworld figures, had helped obtain their possession. Two of the gangsters disarmed Maranzano’s bodyguards while posing as federal agents.
The bosses supported the Commission’s concept, and Luciano used it to covertly keep his control over all the families and stop further gang warfare. A “board of directors” would make up the Commission, which would be in charge of supervising all Mafia activities carried out throughout the country and mediating family disputes.
Al Capone, the head of the Chicago Outfit, Tommy Gagliano, Joseph Bonanno, and Joe Profaci, the leaders of New York’s Five Families, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Vincent Mangano, and Stefano Magaddino, the head of the Buffalo Family, made up the Commission. The Commission’s new chairman is Charlie Luciano. The Commission decided to convene every five years or whenever there was a need to talk about family issues.
At the Valachi hearings in 1963, Joseph Valachi made the Five Families of New York City’s Five Families known to the public. Valachi claimed that Charles Luciano, Tommaso Gagliano, Joseph Profaci, Salvatore Maranzano, and Vincent Mangano were the initial heads of the Five Families. The leaders of the Five Families at the time of Valachi’s testimony in 1963 were Tommy Lucchese, Vito Genovese, Joseph Colombo, Carlo Gambino, and Joe Bonanno.
They continue to have a significant presence in New Jersey as well. In South Florida, Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Massachusetts, The Five Families are also active.