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Concept of Organized Crime and the Mafia (From Gangland: Drug Trafficking by Organized Criminals, P 15-33, 1989, Michael D Lyman -- See NCJ-120419)

NCJ Number
M D Lyman
Date Published
19 pages
This chapter reviews the history and operations of the Mafia (La Cosa Nostra), with a focus on drug trafficking.
Organized crime groups are highly structured, with a chain of command, limited membership based on ethnic background or specific organizational needs, an an organization that aims to expand its criminal involvement by infiltrating legitimate businesses and corrupting prominent members of the community. The early history of the Mafia parallels that of the Camorra in Naples in the late 1800's and is identified as a secret society composed of peasants with an Italian ancestry. In time, the Mafia grew and expanded to the United States, where it grew during the prohibition era. The Mafia recognized the potential lucrativeness of drug trafficking and established ties with traffickers in the Golden Triangle who supplied heroin to Palermo, Sicily, for transportation to the United States. Investigations over the years have revealed that the Mafia trafficked in heroin while working harmoniously with French, Sicilians, and Asians. The Mafia has also worked closely with domestic traffickers such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, black organized crime groups, and local drug dealers. 3 figures.


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