What Would the Sopranos Do?

Getting Organized Over Organized Crime

Like death and taxes, organized crime appears to be an unavoidable part of life around the world. Today’s FBI arrest of at least 100 alleged members of La Cosa Nostra on the East Coast is just the latest chapter in a real-life saga.

Would you rather be an educated organized crime buff, or do you prefer to be stuck in stereotypes from the movies (The Godfather), TV (The Sopranos), and fiction books? After all, criminal syndicates have been part of American life for centuries.

Don’t think that organized crime only involves New York’s ‘Five Families’ — the Bonnano, Columbo, Gambino, Genovese, and Luchese criminal syndicates accused today.

Whatever one’s ethnicity, religion, or race, organized crime remains an ‘equal opportunity’ endeavor — only it’s an illegal one.

Here are a few tips on where you can find legal information about organized crime cases and do some background research.

  1. Learn more about organized crime history from the FBI.  Their web site has an organized crime section, along with a good list of historic cases involving the agency.
  2. This country has always been a place where organized crime groups from different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds have tried to follow their own version of the American Dream.The FBI’s organized crime page has a section on ‘Crime Threats & Programs’ listing places where some criminal syndicates originated outside of the U.S.  It is not, however, complete by any means.
  3. The FBI’s ‘Ten Most Wanted‘ list always has a few alleged mobsters on its pages.
  4. Federal organized crime cases often involve charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (‘RICO’) under 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.
  5. You can search through a treasure trove of federal appeals court cases to learn about organized crime cases involving some famous (and not so famous!) characters. For example:
  6. Justia’s Blawgsearch can help you track down the latest legal blog (‘blawg’) posts on organized crime.
  7. The Congressional Research Service has spent your tax dollars to create reports on organized crime.
  8. Finally, Jerry Capeci’s Gang Land News remains a tremendous news resource for any organized crime follower looking to get the latest scoop on pending and past figures.

You can read the criminal charges against all La Cosa Nostra suspects from New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island here.

Curious about how New York’s Five Families are apparently organized? Take a look at this FBI chart:

Do you know how a Mafia underboss got his ‘title?’ The chart helps explain the answer.