Structure of the Mafia

Each regional Mafia is made up of various Families or gangs. The no. may range from a few to over a 100 depending upon the region. Each Family has separate business dealings and tend to stay out of each other's way. But sometimes their business enterprises may intermingle with each other to a very large extent, depending upon their proximity to each other and the nature of the business.

The Mafia had a very effective structure. It prevented the higher-ranked members of the Families to be responsible for the criminal enterprises. And any lower-ranked Mafioso could easily be bailed out of jail by cleaning his record and bribing the judges. The cops were also generally of the Mafia's payroll and "looked the other way" whenever the Mafia were involved.

The picture displays a typical structure of the Mafia. Most of the Families had similar structures but there may have been slight differences.

The leader of each Mafia Family was known as the Boss or Don. He made all the major decisions and all the Mafia income ultimately came to him. His authority was required to control the Mafia members and to resolve any disputes.

Beneath the Don is the Underboss. The Underboss is the second-in-command but the power he had varied with different Mafia Families. In some cases he wielded enormous power and in some he wielded relatively much less. Some Underbosses were trained to succeed the Don on the event of his death or retirement.

There is a position between the Don and the Underboss too - The Consigliere. He acts like an adviser to the Don and is supposed to make impartial decisions based upon fairness and for the good of the Mafia, rather thank on personal vendettas. This p[position is generally appointed by the Don but sometimes it is also elected by members of the Mafia. The Consigliere also acts like the mouth of the Don often and commands huge respect just like the Don. He is, however, not directly involved with the criminal enterprises of the Mafia.

Just below the Underboss are the Capos. The number of Capos varied between the Families and depended upon the overall size of the Mafia Family. A Capo acts like a lieutenant or captain, leading his own section of the Family. He operates specific activities of the Mafia. A Capo is regarded to be successful only if he earns a huge amount of money for the Mafia. He keeps some of his earnings and the rest are passed up to the Underboss and ultimately the Don.

Below the Capo's are the made-men and soldiers. Made-men are the ultimate enforcers of the Family who have proved themselves and command respect from their fellow Mafioso. Soldier's are the lowest Mafia members. They do all the "dirty work" and as such are generally the ones arrested by the police. Soldiers command little respect and make relatively less money. The number of soldiers and made-men belonging to a Capo may vary tremendously.

The Mafia also use Associates. Associates are not actual members of the  mafia but are people involved with the criminal enterprises. The Mafia works through them. They may be drug-dealers, burglars, assassins, lawyers, or even police and politicians who are on the Mafia's payroll.

Terminology of the Mafia ranks

Traditional terminology
1. Capo di tuttu capi (the "Boss of All Bosses")
2. Capo di Capi Re (a title of respect given to a senior or retired member, equivalent to being a member emeritus, literally, "King Boss of Bosses")
3. Capo Crimine ("Crime Boss", known as a Don - the head of a crime family)
4. Capo Bastone ("Club Head", known as the "Underboss" is second in command to the Capo Crimine)
5. Consigliere(an advisor)6. Caporegime("Regime head", a captain who commands a "crew" of around twenty or more Sgarriste or "soldiers")
7. Sgarrista or Soldato ("Soldier", made members of the Mafia who serve primarily as foot soldiers)
8. Picciotto ("Little man", a low ranking member who serves as an "enforcer")
9. Giovane D'Onore (an associate member, usually someone not of Italian ancestry)

Italian Mafia structure Capofamiglia -
Capofamiglia - (Don/Boss)
Consigliere - (Counselor/Advisor/Right-hand man)
Sotto Capo - (Underboss/Second-in-command)
Capodecina - (Captain/Capo)
Uomini D'onore - ("Men of Honor"/Made men/Soldiers)