By Ron Nichols  

Cosa Nostra

When one thinks of Cosa Nostra, or better known as the Mafia, it strikes fear in knowing that a ruthless criminal enterprise existed and still thrives today. The Mafia is something that Hollywood movie producers and Americans alike canít simply seem to get enough of.

The name Cosa Nostra, translated as "Our Thing," goes back hundreds of years and was founded in Sicily to offer protection to the common people of that country from police, bandits and even government agencies. Cosa Nostra, not surprisingly were treated as folk heroes, saviors of the people. The practice of keeping your mouth shut was the code and if you violated it, the wrath was swift and deadly not only to the culprit, but to his own family as well.

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Joe Masseria

This served as the power base for the American Mafia which was organized, depending on who you ask, during the 1920s by several leaders, most notably Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria and up and coming mobster, Salvatore Maranzano. These old style gangsters were known as "Mustache Petes" for their traditional and conservative ways of doing business. To them, rapid change and too much ambition were out of the question. In other words, they wanted their members to be complacent while they reaped the fruits of others' dastardly deeds.

Salvatore Maranzano arrived in the United States in 1927. He came here not as your ordinary Italian immigrant, but was sent by the Sicilian "Boss of Bosses" Vito Cascio Ferro. Don Vito had a vision of organizing all the American crime families, including non-Italians groups, under one leadership. Once on American soil, Maranzano’s authority was recognized by Gaetano Reina of Brooklyn and his capos, Thomas Luchese and Gaetana Gagliano, by Joey Aiello, the boss of Chicago, and by Joe Zerilli, underboss of the Detroit family. These men entered the United States illegally and were identified by Italian police records as members of the Sicilian Mafia.

Other Sicilian Mafia members to arrive in this manner were Carlo Gambino, Joe Bonanno, Stefano Maggadino and Joe Profaci. Collectively, these mobsters were known as the Twenties Group. When these men hit the American coast, they took shelter in an organization called Unione Siciliana which found them housing, jobs when they wanted them, and identities to cover up their illegal activities. Unione Siciliana also afforded these men the opportunity to learn English and the American way of life. This organization has received a bad rap by history because it helped mobsters and was considered "Mafia owned." This however was not true. Unione Siciliana also helped thousands of law abiding Italian immigrants in adjusting to American life. Including the family of Salvatore Lucania. Better known as Lucky Luciano.

1. Cosa Nostra

2. A Gangster is Born

3. The Long Ride

4. Castellammarese War

5. My Friend Meyer

6. Murder, Inc

7. Living Large

8. Not So Lucky

9. Lucky Factor

10. Bibliography

11. The Author
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