A war between two rival factions of organized crime in America developed between the Masseria clan led by Joe “The Boss” Masseria and the Castellammarese clan led by Sal Maranzano. This was known as the “Castellammarese War”. Maranzano would triumph with the help of mobsters Carlo Gambino, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Vito Genovese. In 1920 with the murder of Joseph Masseria the war ended uniting the two separate organized crime factions back into one organization now dubbed “Cosa Nostra (thing of ours)” by Salvatore Maranzano. Maranzano named his position “Capo di tutti capi” or “boss of bosses”. Maranzano established the code of conduct for the organization along with the formation of the “families” divisions and structure.

Maranzano then appointed the heads of the official “5 Families” of New York. Most were already in command of there respective gangs but this made it official under “Cosa Nostra“.

1) Masseria’s gang would be given to Luciano, with Vito Genovese as his underboss (and would later become the Genovese Family)
2) The Mineo gang would now be headed by Frank Scalise (and would later be known as the Gambino Family)
3) Maranzano would continue to head his gang (which would become the Bonanno Family)
4) Gaetano Gagliano would take over Tom Reina’s gang, and Tommy Lucchese would be his underboss (this would become the Lucchese Family)
5) Joe Profaci would keep his gang, since he stayed neutral during the war (this would later become the Colombo Family)

Maranzano also appointed Al Capone as boss of the chicago faction , later to be known as “the Outfit”. He also appointed Francisco Milano boss of the Cleveland Family and Stefano Magaddino boss of the Buffalo Family.

Maranzano’s rein would be short as he was killed within six months of becoming “boss of bosses” by Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Luciano was gaining in power and Maranzano plotted to kill the young upstart but Luciano was tipped off and struck first ordering the murder of Maranzano.

Charles “Lucky” Luciano would go on to form the Mafia “Commission”. The Commission would become the controlling government of the mafia , each family boss would have a seat on the commission and a vote in setting mafia policy and settling disputes between families. The original Commission included bosses from six of the seven original families formed by Maranzano including all 5 New York Families.

Some Recommended Readings:

* Arlacchi, Pino (1988). Mafia Business. The Mafia Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-285197-7
* (Italian) Arlacchi, Pino (1994). Addio Cosa nostra: La vita di Tommaso Buscetta, Milan: Rizzoli ISBN 88-17-84299-0
* Chubb, Judith (1989). The Mafia and Politics, Cornell Studies in International Affairs, Occasional Papers No. 23.
* Dickie, John (2007). Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia, Hodder. ISBN 978-0-340-93526-2
* Gambetta, Diego (1993). The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection. London: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-80742-1
* Gambetta, Diego (2009). Codes of the Underworld. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-11937-3
* Hess, Henner (1998). Mafia & Mafiosi: Origin, Power, and Myth, London: Hurst & Co Publishers, ISBN 1-85065-500-6
* (Italian) Lupo, Salvatore (1993). Storia della mafia dalle origine ai giorni nostri, Rome: Donzelli editore ISBN 88-7989-020-4
* Paoli, Letizia (2003). Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style, New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515724-9 (Review by Klaus Von Lampe) (Review by Alexandra V. Orlova)
* Raab, Selwyn (2005). Five Families. The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, ISBN 978-1-86105-952-9
* Servadio, Gaia (1976), Mafios . A history of the Mafia from its origins to the present day, London: Secker & Warburg ISBN 0-436-44700-2