The Mafia of the Prohibition Era

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Although the Mafia is most associated with the Prohibition era of the 1920’s when it dominated crime in all major US cities, the true beginnings of the most infamous criminal organization started quite earlier. Beginning in the late 1800s, many Italians immigrated to New York City due to continued rumors of success in the area. This trend continued out of the 19th century and into the 20th as over 500,000 Italians immigrated to the United States (Sifakis). As Italian citizens migrated to the cities of the US, they brought along organized Italian criminals, who formed an organization known as Costra Nosa, translating to ‘our thing’, today we call it the Mafia.
In Sicily, the island southwest of Italy, a place historically invaded by foreign armies, a group known as “The Mafia” with no criminal orientation began to grow in order to protect the citizens from such invaders. Starting in the 19th century, members of the group began exploiting protection money from various landowners and grew into the violent organization known as the Sicilian Mafia (History).
In the 1920s, the Prohibition era just began in America and crime across the country increased dramatically. Simultaneously, the very unpopular Benito Mussolini became leader of Italy. The combination of mobsters needing a new home and America with a new demand for crime created a destined path for the Sicilian mobsters. New York City became the new breeding ground for the Italian life of crime, and with the influence of the

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