The "Mob" in the US

Which of the various Mafias is most influential in the United States today? I’ve heard that the “traditional” Italian Mafia is no longer influential, while the Russian Mafia has a lot of power. And what about groups such as the Hong Kong Triads or the Japanese Yakuza? Is there anyone I’m leaving out?

From this site,

Unsure about the relative menace of each.

What Mafia?


hey DOJ - Hoover’s dead - you can call it “mafia” now!

But that’s how they listed it in the phone book! How else am I going to get my pizza delivered?

Not OP-related but a true and interesting story:

Cousin o’ mine married a rich fat cat who went to the Wharton School of Business. While he was still there, he started a little business on the side with some of his buddies. Nothing major, just something to entertain them till they graduated, maybe make a little cash.

They get this call one day from some old guy in Florida who wants to meet them to talk business, and possibly make an offer for them to sell their business to him.

So they go down there, end up at this big huge house and knock on the door. A somewhat hostile butler answers and takes them to a room, where they wait a bit.

Then the old guy shows up, BSes with them a bit, they talk a little business, and he motions for the butler to go get something.

The butler comes back with a briefcase.

At this moment it dawns on my cousin who the old guy is, and he immediately asks the man if he and his friends can go outside and have a little conference. He says ok.

So my cousin goes outside with his friends and says “We are going to GIVE this man the business and get the hell out of here, I don’t know what’s in that briefcase.”

So they go back in, tell him he can have it and hightail it outta there.

The old man was Meyer Lansky.

I understand that there is a difference between a “mafia” and the “mob”…

Mafia - Originally the Sicilian-American based 'Cosa Nostra"…now often applied to any criminal group formed along well defined familial and ethnic lines with a complex hierarchy and membership structure. (e.g. Yakuza or “Japanese Mafia”, la Eme the “Mexican Mafia”)

Mob - Also “outfit”, a grouping of organized criminals often across ethnic lines, with less organization under a strongman boss, based in a particular city or area. (Las Vegas Mob, Chicago Mob)

For instance Al Capone (a Neapolitan-American -not a Sicilian) was more properly part of the “Mob” while Joe Bonnano was a “Mafia” figure.

Anyway, it is correct to say the Sicilian mafia or old style mobs has mostly gone the way of the Irish or Jewish mobsters and newer immigrant groups are filling their shoes. Also due to RICO and bold prosecution in cities such as New York and Chicago, organized criminals today often avoid the tightly organized “mafia” model (where prosecution can leave a whole organization exposed or fragmented) for rather loosely organized groups that are harder to cripple all at once.


Something about this story doesn’t ring true.Meyer ca.1980 was indistinguishable from many old timers on Miami Beach.Wore sweaters and golf type shirts/slacks like many.Didn’t live in a mansion-a condo with his wife sans butler.Tho almost certainly a cleaning lady.
And if there was anything in a briefcase it would surely have been money.He was far removed from the enforcing end of the biz.

When did this confrontation take place?Hard to believe a kid from Philly would perk his interest.In 1980 all he wanted to do was get in Israel.

This is the SDMB,after all.

I don’t know the exact date but given my cousin’s age, I’m guessing sometime in the 1960s.

Maybe … MAYBE early 70s but certainly no later than oh, 1972 (he was married to his first wife by then).

The Italian authorities started cracking down on the Sicilian mafia (the original Cosa Nostra) in the 1990s after it moved increasingly into the European drugs trade and into violent crime (or at least more violent than previously). Acts like the murder of a prominent anti-mafia judge and the bombing of a passenger train spurred more action.


…it is stronger than ever! True, the Italian authorities have staged a few highly visible trials-but most of the big fish have never been (and won’t be) caught. They still control the drug trade in Europe, and they are about to move back into Havana-the Italian “Finance Police” (equivilent to our ATF) have identified major transfers of cash, to offshore banks in the Cayman Islands. Just as soon as Castro dies, the Mob will re-enter Havana, and surely control the lucrative gambling casinos that will spring up. It will be the 1950’s all over again-only this time the Americans will be cut out of the action. Incidentally, the American Mafia is far from dead-it has been curtailed to a great degree, but anybody putting up a building in NYC knows the Mafia-you will have to pay protection, and you will very likely buy your concrete from a Mob-owned company (and pay 2 times the price). You will have to employ union members from a Mob-controlled construction union, and you will pay for “employees” that you will never see!

Uh, Ralph, you have any cites for your claims that the mafia is pervasive in NYC business? I’d be quite surprised. While there’s certainly still organized crime, law enforcement really waged war on the mafia back in the 1970s, which was likely its peak. If every Joe Storeowner was being shaken down for protection, I think it’d come out pretty quickly. Considering crime in New York is way down, and most people show more concern with “quality-of-life” issues, I’d warrant that the mafia plays little role in day-to-day business of the vast majority of New Yorkers.