Thank you to Skillshare for sponsoring this video. Grazie! I’m Mr. Beat. I’m the boss, the don of this channel, you could say. Now listen up here wise guy, this video’s about the American mob. Now, I’m not here to make one’s bones. In fact, one might call me a rat. In this video, I’m gonna explain how criminal organizations often called the Mafia, or the Mob, rose to power in the United States, especially in the Golden Age. I’m sure you’re already aware of the Mafia, thanks to The Godfather or Martin Scorsese films. But I hate to break this to you, The Godfather and Martin Scorsese films aren’t exactly all that historical. So first of all, the media and law enforcement first used that term Mafia, to describe criminal groups in Sicily. You know, the Mediterranean island in Southern Italy. Or the rock that Italy is kicking. Anyway, Giuseppe Esposito, the first known Sicilian Mafia member to move to the United States, fled to New York City after killing a bunch of politicians and wealthy landowners back in Sicily. Esposito ended up in New Orleans, where, in 1881, detective David Hennessey caught him and sent him back to Italy. By this time, the Sicilian Mafia spread throughout both New Orleans and New York City. They wanted revenge. On October 15, 1890, they found Hennessey, now the superintendent and chief of police, and murdered him, execution style. In response, New Orleans police arrested hundreds of Sicilians, eventually accusing 19 for Hennessey’s murder. However, after a bunch of acquittals and mistrials and rumours the jury had been bribed, an angry mob formed outside the prison. On March 14, 1891, they broke into the prison, dragging out the indicted Sicilian men and killing 11 of them. These killings are perhaps the largest known mass lynching in American history. After the lynchings, the term “Mafia” now entered the American national dialogue. More Americans had anti-Italian feelings, calling for more restrictions to prevent Italians from immigrating to the country. Oh yeah, and the whole Italian mob stereotype was born. So how did the Sicilian Mafia evolve into the American Mafia? Well, from the 1890s to the 1920s, the rise and fall of various gangs would lead to their organization. And yes, many of these gangs attracted young, poor, Italian men with ties to Sicily. However, it’s important to point out that not all of these gangs were Italian. For example, the Five Points Gang was mainly made up of Irish Americans. Although, its leader, Paul Kelly, was Italian. Well that’s not a very Italian sounding name, Mr. Beat. Yeah, his real name was Paolo Antonio Vaccarelli. And he changed his name so it sounded more Irish. The big rival gang to the Five Points Gang was the Eastman Gang, who were mostly Jewish. Other gangs in the mix in New York City in the early 20th century were the Cherry Hill Gang, White Hand Gang, the Yakey Yakes, and the Sugar Hill Gang. Just kidding. That last one was just a rap group that came around later on. Anyway, many of these gangs participated in an extortion racket known as The Black Hand. The name came from gang tactics like sending a letter to someone threatening to kill them or kidnap a loved one unless she or he paid a specified amount of money. These letters often were signed with a hand held up as a gesture of warning, which was usually imprinted with black ink. And yes, many of these gangs had lots of political influence, particularly with Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party political organization that controlled New York politics and helped immigrants get political power. Out in Chicago, Al Capone’s Italian American crime organization known as the Chicago Outfit gained power in the 1920s, mostly through the illegal distribution of alcohol during Prohibition. But it wasn’t just Chicago. These bootlegging gangs rose up all over the country, and yes many of them attracted Italian Americans, especially as a wave of new Italian immigrants came to the United States after fleeing Mussolini after he took control. By the end of the 1920s, the two largest Italian criminal organizations in New York got into a war with each other. Seriously, it was even called the Castellammarese War. On one side, Joe Masseria. On the other, Salvatore Maranzano, who conspired with Masseria’s own lieutenant, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, to have Masseria killed. Luciano did kill Masseria on April 15, 1931, ending the so-called Castellammarese War and putting Maranzano now in charge as the most powerful American Mafia boss. He set up The Commission, or governing body to rule the American Mafia. The Commission had a ruling committee made up of bosses of crime syndicates around the country. In particular, Maranzano somehow got New York crime families who previously hated each other to join forces. These five families, the Bonannos, Colombos, Gambinos, Genovese, and Lucchese, collectively were known as the Five Families, and they all agreed to share power. Maranzano was the first leader of an organization now called La Cosa Nostra, which translates to “Our Thing.” He named Lucky Luciano the first boss of the Genovese family. However, Maranzano started to act like a dictator and threatening the balance of power, and so Luciano ended up turning on HIM, sending dudes disguised as accountants to murder him. So Luciano was now in charge, but in 1936, the police got him for operating a prostitution ring. The judge sentenced him up to 50 years in prison, yet Luciano only ended up serving ten. After his release, the American government deported him to Italy. However, he remained an important liaison between the Sicilian Mafia and American Mafia. Even after Prohibition ended, the American Mafia held onto to power and even expanded it. After all, other drugs were still illegal. And it diversified its black market activities. There was loan sharking, gambling operations, protection rackets, selling illegally obtained goods. The Mafia even gained control of the labor unions, especially the Teamsters and International Longshoremen’s Association. Jimmy Hoffa, who served as President of Teamsters, notoriously got in trouble with the law due to his ties with the Mafia. In New York City, the Mafia became so powerful that the majority of construction projects didn’t happen without approval from one of the Five Families. Using loans they got from the Teamsters’ pension fund, Mobsters built and owned at least 19 Las Vegas casinos, likely many more than that. And throughout the country, the Mafia faced little opposition from the police, who often either didn’t have the resources to fight them or, in many cases, didn’t even know they existed. The head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover famously denied their existence. Those within police forces or the courts who did know were often bribed or intimidated. And not that anyone in the Mob would snitch to the police anyway. It wasn’t until 1951 that the federal government brought national attention to the American Mafia. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee led a committee to investigate the effect organized crime had on interstate commerce, and they even called in suspected mobsters like Frank Costello in to testify. Yeah, none of the mobsters provided any helpful information. However, the hearings got lots of media attention, raising awareness about organized crime and making Kefauver a household name. In fact, a fictionalized version of the hearings later appeared in The Godfather Part II. (Godfather: Part 2 clip) Six years later, New York State Police stumbled upon a meeting of major La Cosa Nostra leaders from around the country in the upstate town of Apalachin, at the home of Joseph Barbara, or Joe the Barber. I guess you could say police got suspicious when all these fancy cars with out of state license plates showed up to the sleepy little town. They detained and indicted more than 60 Mafia bosses. The Apalachin Meeting, as it was called, confirmed the existence of a nationwide crime organization and finally got J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI’s attention. And in 1963, the FBI got their first big time snitch. Joe Valachi became the first mobster to give up secrets about the inner workings of the Mafia. After that, the FBI began a more aggressive attack, and it was harder for the Mob to hide. The FBI created the Organized Crime Strike Force in various cities, and then, in 1970…RICO. Congress passed and President Richard Nixon signed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which increased penalties for racketeering and specifically targeted the leaders of organized crime to get in trouble for having others carry out crimes for them. The Mafia pressed on, however, by continuing to diversify. In the 1970s, they got into betting on college sports and tax fraud. Still, prosecutors were successful at weakening the Mafia by carrying out RICO. By the 1980s, the FBI was able to get rid of Mafia control of Vegas casinos and loosen their control over labor unions, which as a whole were on the decline anyway. As the 20th century came to a close, it was obvious the power of the American Mafia was on the decline. But don’t be fooled. They were still a force to be reckoned with. In 2002, the FBI estimated the Mob still made at least $50 billion a year. Eh, today the Mafia still exists. There’s about 3,000 members, according to the FBI. mostly in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City. And don’t worry guys. I know that some of you might be watching right now, inevitably. I’m not a snitch, alright. I’m just going through some history here, alright? But yeah, today the Mafia is more low key, often outsourcing their work to other criminal groups, like biker gangs. I’m not joking. And, as long as there is a way to make money from illegal stuff, there will be organized crime. So organized crime continues today, and while we typically hear about it more in places like Mexico and Guatemala, it’s pretty much in every country. And it thrives in places where politicians are corrupt or where they feel helpless. Where they are taking bribes or looking the other way when organized crime takes over. But enough of this garbage business. I’m going to go do a little, uh, spring cleaning. Alright? I gotta go. 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The first 500 subscribers to use the link in the description of my video will get a 2 month free trial. Heck yeah. So what do you think about the Mob? Should I join? Eh, forgetaboutit. I want to apologize for my really cringey impersonation of a stereotypical mobster. This video topic was recommended by my amazing patron Pillerstiller Bahn Ruthington. I took his suggestion because he donates $20.19 a month to me on Patreon. I’m not joking. Thanks for your great suggestion, and all of your help with the script Pillerstiller. If you want YOUR suggestion heard, too donate at the Grover Cleveland level, at least or higher, and I will take it. Speaking of Patreon, here’s my monthly shout out to all my Patreon supporters who donate to me at least $10 or more a month. President Storm, Eric B Wolman, Elcaspar, Jojo’s Dogtail, Matt Standish, Nik Everett, Sean Conant, Cjkavy, Kenneth, Chris, John Johnson, Unnamed Muffin, Chris Prall, and Victor Warmflash. Thank you all for your support. I love you. And if you’re still watching this video. Thank you, too. I love you. In a completely platonic kind of way. Don’t get the wrong idea here.