Five Families

Charles "Lucky" Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime and is responsible for splitting New York into different criminal gangs.

The Five Families refers to the five major New York City organized crime families of the Italian American Mafia. The term was first used in 1931, when Salvatore Maranzano formally organized the previously warring factions into what are now known as the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese crime families, each with demarcated territory, organizationally structured in a now-familiar hierarchy, and having them reporting up to the same overarching governing entity. Initially (in the summer of 1931), that governing entity was a capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses), but that September the role was replaced by The Commission, which continues to govern American Mafia activities in the United States and Canada.


The crime families originated out of New York City Sicilian Mafia gangs. Salvatore Maranzano formally organized them in the summer of 1931, after the April 15, 1931 murder of Giuseppe Masseria, in what has become known as the Castellammarese War. Maranzano also introduced the now-familiar Mafia hierarchy: boss (capofamiglia), underboss (sotto capo), advisor (consigliere), captain (caporegime), soldier (soldato), and associate; and declared himself capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses).

By declaring himself "boss of bosses", Maranzano reneged on the deal he had made with Lucky Luciano. In that deal, it was agreed that after Luciano was to help murder Masseria, the two bosses were to be equals. However, when Maranzano was murdered on September 10, 1931, just months after Masseria, the "boss of bosses" position was eliminated in favor of The Commission, a council which demarcated territory among the previously warring factions and would govern American Mafia activities in the United States and Canada.


The crime families were publicly named in the 1963 Valachi hearings based on their bosses at the time: Tommy Lucchese, Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Joseph Profaci, and the recently deposed Joseph Bonanno. For the most part the names stuck, but the "Profaci family" would be renamed the "Colombo family", in reference to boss Joseph Colombo.[1][2]

Mafia boss succession

Bonanno and Massino family

Profaci/Colombo family

Mangano/Gambino family

Luciano/Genovese family

Gagliano/Lucchese family

Current bosses


The crime families historically operated throughout the New York Metropolitan area, but mainly within New York City's boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. In the state of New York the gangs have increased their criminal rackets in Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) and the counties of Westchester, Rockland, and Albany. They also maintain a strong presence in the state of New Jersey.[6] The Five Families are also active in South Florida, Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Massachusetts.

Factual and fictional details of the history of the crime families have been used in a vast array of media, such as:





See also


  1. Capeci, Jerry (2004). The Complete Idiot's Guide To The Mafia (2nd ed.). New York: Alpha Books. pp. 48–49. ISBN 1-59257-305-3.
  2. Raab, p. 186
  3. Raab, Selwyn. (2006). criminal organized crime groups: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press. pp. 732–734. ISBN 978-0-312-36181-5.
  4. "Jerry Capeci: Mob Murder In Montreal Could Trigger Bloodshed In New York". 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  5. COLOMBO ORGANIZED CRIME group ACTING BOSS, UNDERBOSS, AND TEN OTHER MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES INDICTED (archived from the original Archived December 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. on 2010-05-27), U.S. Department of Justice, June 4, 2008.
  6. 1 2 The Changing Face of Organized Crime in New Jersey (A Status Report) (PDF). May 2004. pp. 105–114.
  7. "New Charges for Mob group as U.S. Indictment Names 20". The New York Times. April 20, 2001.

Further reading

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