Mafia Families

Mafia Family Tree

The Mafia Structure

So you wanna climb the mafia ladder, bambino?

The Cosa Nostra Structure


This is by far the most known crime organization so we’ll talk about it for know and in later articles we’ll go further in other crime organizations.

The Cosa Nostra is not a tyrannical organization, it’s composed of  “families” or “clans”.  In the current time, Cosa Nostra is estimated to have more than 100 clans, with almost 50 of them in the province of Palermo, with at least 3,500 to 4,000 members.

The mafia structure became mainstream when in 1984, the mafioso informant Tommaso Buscetta told the prosecutors how the pyramidal command structure of a typical clan works. A clan has a “boss” (capofamiglia), who is assisted by an underboss (sotto capo) and one or more counselor (consigliere). Under this “upper management” there are capos (caporegime) each with crews of about 10 “soldiers” (in the present time, that’s usually more).

On top of its members, the Cosa Nostra has lots of “associates”. This is as far as you’ll go in Italian Mafia hierarchy if you don’t have italian blood in your veins. Associates usually work with a family in business-related issues (think lawyers, accountants, business owners, politicians, cops and so on) but are not treated as real members.

The top boss is often referred to as the capo di tutti capi (“boss of all bosses”), who allegedly leads all the clans of Cosa Nostra. The capo di tutti capi usually leads The Commission.

Traditionally, you’ll be able to become a mafiosi only if you are a men, though in recent times there have been a few reports of women assuming the position of imprisoned mob relatives.

The Ten Commandments

If you want to become a made guy, then you need to prepare yourself because there are some basic rules you’ll need to follow. -And these are not the kind of rules you can break and get away with it!-

In late 2007, the Sicilian police found a list of “Ten Commandments” in the hideout of the mafia boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo. They are thought to be guidelines on how to be a good, respectful and honorable mafioso.

  1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
  2. Never look at the wives of friends.
  3. Never be seen with cops.
  4. Don’t go to pubs and clubs.
  5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty – even if your wife is about to give birth.
  6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
  7. Wives must be treated with respect.
  8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
  9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
  10. People who can’t be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn’t hold to moral values.

Omertà: the code of silence

Think you have what it takes to be a mafioso? Keep on reading because the main commandment is not on the above list!

Omertà is the code of silence that prohibits mafia members from helping at all with the cops or prosecutors if they were arrested. The punishment for transgression of this commandment is death, and relatives/family of the turncoat may be murdered as well. To a certain degree, the Cosa Nostra also applies this code on the general public, persecuting any civilian who aids the authorities.

The Mafia Hierarchy

Ok, now that you are aware what to expect once you become a wise guy, you are ready to know how the mafia families’ structure looks like!


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