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is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid 19th century in Sicily. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct. Each group, known as a "family", "clan", or "cosca", claims sovereignty over a territory in which it operates its rackets – usually a town or village or a neighborhood of a larger city.
Offshoots of the Mafia emerged in the United States during the late 19th century following waves of Italian emigration (see American Mafia) as well as in Canada andAustralia.The term "Mafia" is also employed to name Mafia-type organizations operating under a similar structure, whether Sicilian or not; such as the Camorra (fromCampania), the 'Ndrangheta (from Calabria), the Stidda Southern Sicily or the Sacra Corona Unita as well as foreign organized crime groups.
However, Giovanni Falcone, the anti-Mafia judge who was killed by the Mafia, objected to the inflation of the use of "Mafia" to organized crime in general: "While there was a time when people were reluctant to pronounce the word 'Mafia,' … nowadays people have gone so far in the opposite direction that it has become an overused term … I am no longer willing to accept the habit of speaking of the Mafia in descriptive and all-inclusive termsthat make it possible to stack up phenomena that are indeed related to the field of organized crime but that have little or nothing in common with the Mafia."According to the most commonly accepted definition, Mafia corresponds to the regional criminality of Sicily
In November 2007 Sicilian police reported to have found a list of "Ten Commandments" in the hideout of mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo. They are thought to be guidelines on how to be a good, respectful and honourable mafioso.
Membership in Cosa Nostra is open only to Sicilian men. A candidate cannot be a relative or have any close links with a lawman, such as a policeman or a judge. There is no strict age limit: boys as young as sixteen have been initiated. A prospective mafioso is carefully tested for obedience, discretion, ruthlessness and skill at spying. He is almost always required to commit murder as his ultimate trial,even if he doesn't plan to be a career assassin. The act of murder is to prove his sincerity and to bind him into silence
It is difficult to exactly define the Mafia or a single function or goal of the phenomenon. Until the early 1980s, mafia was generally considered a unique Sicilian cultural attitude and form of power, excluding any corporate or organisational dimension. Some even used it as a defensive attempt to render the Mafia benign and romantic: not a criminal association, but the sum of Sicilian values that outsiders never will understand.
"10 commandments "of mafia
  1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
  2. Never look at the wives of friends.
  3. Never be seen with cops.
  4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
  5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife is about to give birth.
  6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
  7. Wives must be treated with respect.
  8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
  9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
  10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.
The First Mafia War was the first high-profile conflict between Mafia clans in post-war Italy ,the Sicilian Mafia has a long history of violent rivalries.
In 1962, the mafia boss Cesare Manzella organized a drug shipment to America with the help of two Sicilian clans, the Grecos and the La Barberas. Manzella entrusted another boss, Calcedonio Di Pisa, to handle the heroin. When the shipment arrived in America, however, the American buyers claimed some heroin was missing, and paid Di Pisa a commensurately lower sum. Di Pisa accused the Americans of defrauding him, while the La Barberas accused Di Pisa of embezzling the missing heroin. The Sicilian Mafia Commission sided with Di Pisa, to the open anger of the La Barberas. The La Barberas murdered Di Pisa and Manzella, triggering a war.
Many non-mafiosi were killed in the crossfire. In April 1963, several bystanders were wounded during a shootout in Palermo.In May, Angelo La Barbera survived a murder attempt in Milan. In June, six military officers and a policeman in Ciaculli were killed while trying to dispose of a car bomb. These incidents provoked national outrage and a crackdown in which nearly 2,000 arrests were made. Mafia activity fell as clans disbanded and mafiosi went into hiding. The Sicilian Mafia Commission was dissolved; it would not reform until 1969. 117 suspects were put on trial in 1968, but most were acquitted or received light sentences.The inactivity plus money lost to legal fees and so forth reduced most mafiosi to poverty
in the 1970s their rackets grew considerably more lucrative, particularly smuggling. The most lucrative racket of the 1970s was cigarette smuggling.Sicilian and Neapolitan crime bosses negotiated a joint monopoly over the the smuggling of cigarettes to Naples.
When heroin refineries operated by Corsican gangsters in Marseilles were shut down by French authorities, morphine traffickers looked to Sicily. Starting in 1975, Cosa Nostra set up heroin refineries across the island. As well as refining heroin, Cosa Nostra also sought to control its distribution. Sicilian mafiosi moved to the United States to personally control distribution networks there, often at the expense of their U.S. counterparts. Heroin addiction in Europe and North America surged, and seizures by police increased dramatically. By 1982, the Sicilian Mafia controlled about 80% of the heroin trade in the north-eastern United States. Heroin was often distributed to street dealers from Mafia-owned pizzerias, and the revenues could be passed off as restaurant profits.
The mafioso Giovanni Brusca described the ceremony in which he was formally made a full member of Cosa Nostra. In 1976 he was invited to a "banquet" at a country house. He was brought into a room where several mafiosi were sitting around a table upon which sat a pistol, a dagger and an image of a saint. They questioned his commitment and his feelings regarding criminality and murder despite him already having a history of such acts. When he affirmed himself, Salvatore Riina, then the most powerful boss of Cosa Nostra, took a needle and pricked Brusca's finger. Brusca smeared his blood on the image of the saint, which he held in his cupped hands as Riina set it alight. As Brusca juggled the burning image in his hands, Riina said to him: "If you betray Cosa Nostra, your flesh will burn like this saint."
Omertà is a code of silence and secrecy that forbids mafiosi from betraying their comrades to the authorities. The penalty for transgression is death, and relatives of the turncoat may also be murdered. Mafiosi generally do not associate with police (aside perhaps from corrupting individual officers as necessary). For instance, a mafioso will not call the police when he is a victim of a crime. He is expected to take care of the problem himself. To do otherwise would undermine his reputation as a capable protector of others , and his enemies may see him as weak and vulnerable.
The need for secrecy and inconspicuousness deeply colors the traditions and mannerisms of mafiosi. Mafiosi are discouraged from consuming alcohol or drugs, as in an inebriated state they are more likely to blurt out sensitive information. They also frequently adopt self-effacing attitudes to strangers so as to avoid unwanted attention.Mafiosi are also forbidden from writing down anything about their activities, lest such evidence be discovered by police.
To a degree, mafiosi also impose omertà on the general population. Civilians who buy their protection or make other deals are expected to be discreet, on pain of death. Witness intimidation is also common.
Mafiosi approach potential clients in an aggressive but friendly manner, like a door-to-door salesman.They may even offer a few free favors as enticement. If a client rejects their overtures, mafiosi sometimes coerce them by vandalizing their property or other forms of harassment. Physical assault is rare; clients may be murdered for breaching agreements or talking to the police, but not for simply refusing protection.
In many situations, mafia bosses prefer to establish an indefinite long-term bond with a client, rather than make one-off contracts. The boss can then publicly declare the client to be under his permanent protection his "friend", in Sicilian parlance. This leaves little public confusion as to who is and isn't protected, so thieves and other predators will be deterred from attacking a protected client and prey only on the unprotected