Boss (crime)

"Crime boss" redirects here. For the singer, see Crime Boss (rapper).
"Mob boss" redirects here. For the 1990 film, see Mob Boss (film).

A crime boss, crime lord, mob boss, kingpin, criminal mastermind, or Don is a person in charge of a criminal organization. A boss typically has absolute or nearly absolute control over his subordinates, is greatly feared by his subordinates for his ruthlessness and willingness to take lives in order to exert his influence, and profits from the criminal endeavours in which his organization engages.[1][2]

Some groups may only have as little as two ranks (a boss and his 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

The boss in the Sicilian and American Mafia is the head of the crime family and the top decision maker. A boss will typically put up layers of insulation between himself and his men in order to defeat law enforcement efforts to arrest 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 to directly implicate a boss in a crime, since he almost never directly gives orders to the soldiers. 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. If the boss is incarcerated or incapacitated he places an acting boss who responsible for running the crime family. When a boss dies the crime family members choose a new boss.

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

Mr Big

The term Mr Big is used within the underworld, and within 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 in the case of a report of the attempted assassination of an apparent leader of the Irish Republican Army, a person named Alan Ryan.[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]

In the vernacular of underworld lexiconography within the 1940s of the United States of America, one source does not include the term as a known slang term, but does list Big Brains, as referring to a gang leader.[13]

See also


  1. Pistone, Joseph D. The Way of the Wiseguy: The FBI's Most Famous Undercover Agent Cracks the Mob Mind. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2005. ISBN 0-7624-2384-6
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Manning, George A. Financial Investigation and Forensic Accounting. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8493-2223-5
  3. Albanese, Jay, Contemporary Issues in Organized Crime. Monsey, N.Y.: Criminal Justice Press, 1995. ISBN 1-881798-04-6
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 DeVico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra. Tate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-60247-254-8
  5. Raab, Selwyn. The Five Families: The Rise, Decline & Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empire. New York: St. Martins Press, 2005.
  6. "Genovese Indicitment"
  7. Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. Paperback reissue. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-06-109664-4
  8. DeStefano, Anthony M. King of the Godfathers: Big Joey Massino and the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008. ISBN 0-8065-2874-5
  9. 1 2 Nash, Robert Jay. World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1993. ISBN 0-306-80535-9
  10. Alan Sherry - Article titled: Drug lord avoids death after gardai intelligence stops attempted hit Sundayworld Friday 23rd May 2014 [Retrieved 2015-07-27]
  11. 1 2 Fiona Brookman; Mike Maguire; Harriet Pierpoint; Trevor Bennett. Handbook on Crime. Routledge 1 Feb 2010, ISBN 131743675X. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  12. J. Ridings - Chicago to Springfield:: Crime and Politics in the 1920s Arcadia Publishing 18 Sep 2012
  13. Vincent Joseph Monteleone. Criminal Slang: The Vernacular of the Underground Lingo. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. 1949. Retrieved 2015-07-27.

External links


E. Carrabine, M. Lee, P. Iganski – Criminology: A Sociological Introduction Psychology Press, 2004

P. Grabosky – The Criminology of White-Collar Crime Springer Science & Business Media, 16 Dec 2008

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.