Crime family

A crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly the Mafia (both in Sicily and in the United States), often operating within a specific geographic territory.


The origins of the term come from the Sicilian Mafia. In the Sicilian language, the word cosca, which literally translates into artichoke (a vegetable whose multiple layers surround and protect a vital core), is also used for clan. In the early days of the Mafia, loose groups of bandits organized themselves into associations that over time became more organized, and they adopted the term based on both of its meanings.

As the Mafia was imported into the United States in the late 19th century, the English translation of the word cosca was more at clan or family.

The term can be a point of confusion, especially in popular culture and Hollywood, because in the truest sense, crime families are not necessarily blood families who happen to be involved in criminal activity, and not necessarily based on blood relationships. In Sicily and America, most Mafia bosses are not related to their predecessors.[1][2] Films like The Godfather and a spate of late-1980s "Mafia princess" movies underscore this confusion.

It can further be speculated that the Mafia was simply emulating, to a certain degree, a more medieval order in which a noble family would more or less serve as the power in a local village, in a sort of inverted hacienda culture.

The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta is, however, purported to be organized along familial lines.

Nevertheless, the term stuck, both in the minds of popular culture as well as the national law enforcement community, and eventually began to be used to describe individual units of not only Sicilian gangsters, but those whose origins lie in other parts of Italy (e.g., the aforementioned 'Ndrangheta, the Neapolitan Camorra, the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita, etc.). Indeed, the "family" mystique is to such a great degree that in the late 1990s, after many Camorra leaders were imprisoned during a large-scale crackdown in Naples, many of their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and even mothers took temporary control of their gangs, in a widespread phenomenon of Camorra "godmothers".

Sometimes the term is used to describe distinct units of crime syndicates of other ethnic and national origin, such as the Irish Mob, Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Tongs and Triads, Indian Mafia, Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, Chechen mafia, Russian Mafia, Maltese Mafia , the Thief in law and Eastern European families. Some of these entities, like the 'Ndrangheta, may also be organized along blood-family lines.

American Mafia crime families

North America

There are many crime families that make up the American Mafia, ranging from giant powers with international influence like the Outfit and the Five Families of New York City to small groups with only about 30–50 made members.


There are many Crime families with the islands of the caribbean, islands such as Puerto Rico,Jamaica,Haiti,Dominican Republic.

See also


  1. Diego Gambetta. The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection. 1993
  2. The Everything Mafia Book: True-life Accounts of Legendary Figures, Infamous Crime Families, and Nefarious Deeds. Scott M. Dietche. Everything Books, 2009. Page 80
  3. Anthony Harriott; Charles M Katz (2015). Gangs in the Caribbean. University of the West Indies West. ISBN 978-9766405076.


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