Italian Mafia Versus Other Gangs

The Italian “Mafia” gets most of the stage and screen coverage, but I’m wondering how they deal with other gangs, e.g. the Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, the Russian and Latin American gangs, the bikers etc. I would assume they would have to cross paths here and there, as they encroach on each others’ territory. Do they face off as equals in such situations, or is either assumed to have the upper hand?

In the public perception, the Mafia has an image of being more disciplined image than some of the others - certainly than the urban street gangs - more focused on rules and run in a more businesslike manner, while the others feature more random violence. I assume this would give the former some edge in an urban war. Also, they appear to have better political connections.

But I wonder if anyone has any better information about this.

History channel had an awesome history of organized crime that covered Russia, China, Korea, Japan and others. In the US, there were definitely Irish and Polish gangs. The Godfather mentions working with a Jewish gangster. I think anywhere you had a large immigrant population, you had a gang of that nationality.

The different gangs all compete and cooperate to some degree. The Mafia definitely brags about their code and being more business-like, but I’m not sure they really are better than the others, especially groups like the Yakuza and Triads.

To be clear, I’m talking about the present situation (or recent history).

Here’s a Slate article that states La Coss Nostra is still too powerful for other crime organizations to take on due its hierarchical organization.

Godfather vs. Vor
Who would win in a fight?

They deal with other gangs through a mixture of gangs and rivalries. If Wikipedia is trusted, for example the DeCavalcante family (New Jersey mafia) is allies with the Pagans MC. The Philadelphia family is allied with Warlocks MC, Junior Black Mafia, and MS13.

Understood, but from what I’ve seen of several of these alliances, the other gangs have been junior partners in these deals, while the mafia leaders have been the managing general partners, if you will.

The pre-eminent position of the Mafia is remarkable. The Mafia got on top in the 1930’s-why? The Jewish and Irish mobs were just as ruthless-yet they lost out to the Italian mob-why?
My guess-the Italian gangs were better organized, and more disciplined. Hence, they prevailed over their rivals.

I’d put my money on the Vor. Those Barrayarans can be pretty ruthless.

The Jewish gangs were probably at their most potent during the days of Lepke and Buchalter, but their sons didn’t follow in their footsteps, unlike a lot of the Italians.

More well known Jewish gangsters:

Meyer Lansky
Bugsy Siegel
Dutch Schultz (original name: Arthur Flegenheimer)

Lansky and Siegel eventually integrated their organization into the Italian mob. The characters of Moe Greene and Hyman Roth in the Godfather movies are based on Siegel and Lansky.

Jeeze- “Lepke and Buchalter”:rolleyes: I meant “Lepke and Lansky” :slight_smile:

Plus they have orbit-to-ground nuclear capability! That’s a bit better than what the Mafia has. :smiley:

I recall reading that Bujold originally didn’t know that Vor meant thief in Russian; when someone pointed it out to her though she ran with it. "Vor does mean ‘thief!’ "

What makes the Italian mafia stick around is the same thing that Don Corleone had going for him over the other bosses, political connections. The value of the knowledge of payoffs and blackmail for covering up politicians vices never goes down in value. Political connections by way of access to legitimate police enforcement gives you the ability to have control over your “junior” league gangs. The Italians got established and stayed there.early

I believe Lansky made that claim (& IIRC he did not attend his son’s graduation from US Naval Academy, because he didn’t want to dishonor the proceedings with his mobster reputation) but I don’t think it’s especially true in the sense that he meant it.

The real reason for the decline of the Jewish mob is that the socio-economic class that produced it declined. The Jewish mob arose out of the great masses of impoverished immigrants, living in tenements and working in sweatshops. Such conditions produce mobsters, regardless of ethnicity. Over time, this entire group virtually disappeared, in that their children mostly went to college, became doctors and lawyers etc., and moved to the suburbs. This type of population does not produce mobsters.

By contrast, there are still big neighborhoods of lower middle class blue collar Italians.

I’m not sure about the Irish. The Irish were a dominant force in many of the great urban street gangs of the 19th century, but these were of a different sort than the organized crime gangs that came later.

My impression is that most of the 19th century street gang members held other jobs, and their gang membership was more of a social thing - they hung out together and brawled with other gangs. Along the way, they - or at least many of the members - engaged in some criminal activity in an ad hoc way. The 20th century presented more opportunities for full time structured gang employment, in areas like labor racketeering and later the Prohibition, but by the time the true organized crime elements came into being, the Irish dominance had already passed.

The Atlantic City gang depicted in Boardwalk Empire is Irish…it’s not like the Irish mobs were gone by Prohibition, but I guess the Italians had “the numbers” by then, thanks to social mobility, to take advantage of the criminal opportunities made possible by Prohibition, and thus the Irish aren’t well remembered.

The Irish were in there early and spoke English, so they got into the local government, police force, and the Catholic hierarchy and kind of dominated these areas. At least this is my understanding of the situation.

I think another thing that the Mafia had going for it (as opposed to other ethnic gangs)-was their realization of the vast profits to be made by controlling labor unions. Prostitution and loan sharking are fine…but the money paled in comparison to the ability to loot the Teamster’s Union pension fund.
As Don Coleone said to his adopted son “a lwayer with his briefcase can steal more than 100 men with guns”.
Why engage in warfare when you can get a reliable steady income from stealing the union dues of organized labor? This activity continues to this day.

I don’t think that’s accurate.

I believe the early labor racketeers were mostly Jewish. Contemporary Mafia influence in labor unions is more the result of their success, not the cause of it.

The Latin Cartels are 1000 times stronger than any of the struggling Italian Mafias are doing. The Italian Mafioso have lost their honor and their power has dwindled. Just look at how the rizzuto crime family was rooted and the son killed and father killed and the underboss kidnapped tortured and killed and it was suspected to be the cartels.

There is no comparison the Italian mafia is a has-been, that’s still living off of movies and Hollywood. Their power is over and times have changed. Back in the seventies before there was latins, Russians etc., these old all talk fatsos kept the “whitties” scared and used the blacks and others to do their dirty work. Now everyone knows their game. That has changed the blacks do not trust them at all anymore and have their own gangs and have no respect for the old Mafioso. Those times are over. Aside from that the old Italian mafiosos have such a low intelligence, and came here running from poverty in their country. Not the smartest bunch. The cartels control all the underworld now. And the latinos, and all now know what the Italian mobsters are all about, they Ratttt on all their associates and instead of killing others, they kill their own family and friends. True scum. That’s why all the remnants of the Italian mafia don’t even trust each other and always rat on each other. The omerta nonsence and BS is over. These are the same idiots who lied to everyone saying they do not sell drugs when they were selling it in all the minority neighborhoods. What sneaky scum. Everyone knows their game now. And watch out with those wanna be Italian mobsters, they rat on everybody and any competition. The street knows. Any competition they will just be sneaky and rat them out like they have done for years. No one respects these loser clowns on the street anymore. Look at the mess the Italians caused new jersey and new york by dumping waste in the rivers, they have polluted their own dirty states and communities. Beware of those dwindling Italian street thugs because they are phonies and scared cowards, in reality they hide it and do not admit it, but they are terrified of the latinos and anyone else who threatens them, and will rat everyone out. That’s their game they rat everyone to the police while they try to hang on to their dirty game. The truth is out on these washed up fat racist losers who control less and less every day.

you have to remember that in the 1900s and teens there wasn’t what we consider the mafia in America … it was just loosely allied street gangs with the strongest group using the other as the minor leagues … Also between ww1 personal dissipation reforms in law enforcement the old style street gangs were almost wiped out …

that’s why from a law enforcement point of view prohibition was the biggest disaster because things like the 5 points gang (where most of the ny and Chicago mafia originated from ) all of a sudden had money and lansky and Luciano decided to use the structure they had today …

Today a lot of street gangs pay the mafia a cut for the right to exist (an idea borrowed from Chicago ) because if they don’t all of a sudden certain officals start a crusade …

Also a lot of the mafia has evolved from thug crimes to financial scams so they just take a cut for letting the drugs in and letting other people do the work …