Inside The Ranks of The Mafia


A crime boss is a person in charge of a criminal organization. A boss typically has unquestioned command over his subordinates, is greatly feared by his subordinates for his ruthlessness and willingness to take lives in order to exert his influence, and profits greatly from the criminal endeavors his organization engages in.

There is a typical structure which crime organizations may operate under. The Mafia, being a very prominent example, is not the only one. The typical structure is usually as follows:

* Boss – Also known as the Don, “capo crimini,” or “family patriarch,” this is the highest level in the criminal organization.

* Underboss – Also known as the “capo bastone” in some criminal organizations, this individual is the second-in-command. The underboss is sometimes a family member, such as a son, who will take over the family if the don is sick, killed, or sent to prison. He is responsible for ensuring that profits from criminal enterprises flow up to the boss, and generally oversees the selection of the caporegime and soldier(s) to carry out murders.

* Consigliere – Also known as an advisor or “right-hand man,” a consigliere is a counselor to the boss of a crime family. The boss, underboss, and consigliere constitute a three-man ruling panel, or “Administration.” The consigliere is third ranked in the hierarchy but does not have capos or soldiers working for him. Like the boss, there is usually only one consigliere per criminal organization.

* Caporegime – Also known as a captain, skipper, capo, or “crew chief,” the caporegime was originally known as a “capodecina” (captain of ten) because he oversaw only 10 soldiers. In more recent times, the caporegime may oversee as many soldiers as he can efficiently control.

* Soldato – Also known as a sgarrista, soldier, “button man,” “made man,” “goodfellow,” or “wiseguy.” This is the lowest level of mobster or gangster. A “soldier” must have taken the omertĂ  (oath of silence), and in some organizations must have killed a person in order to be considered “made.” A picciotto is a low-level soldier, usually someone who does the day-to-day work of threatening, beating, and intimidating others.

* Associate – Also known as a “giovane d’onore” (man of honor), an associate is a person who is not a soldier in a crime family, but works for them and shares in the execution of and profits from the criminal enterprise. In Italian criminal organizations, “associates” are members of the criminal organization who are not of Italian descent. An associate may never rise above this rank; an example of a close associate is Hugh “Apples” MacIntosh of the Colombo Family.

Some groups may only have as little as two ranks (a boss and his soldiers). Other groups have a more complex, structured organization with many ranks, and structure may vary with cultural background.

Contributor: Suicune (Yahoo)