Five Families

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

The Five Families are the five original Italian American Mafia crime families of New York City which have dominated organized crime in the United States since 1931.

The families are: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese.


The Five Families originated out of New York City Sicilian Mafia gangs. They were formally organized in the summer of 1931 by Salvatore Maranzano 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 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. When Maranzano was murdered just months after Masseria on September 10, 1931, the "boss of bosses" position was eliminated in favor of The Commission, a council which demarcated territory among the previously warring factions and governs American Mafia activities in the United States and Canada.


The Five 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", as a reference to boss Joseph Colombo.[1][2]

Mafia boss succession[edit]

Bonanno Family:

Profaci/Colombo Family:

Mangano/Gambino Family:

Luciano/Genovese Family:

Lucchese Family:

Current bosses[edit]


The Five Families operate throughout the New York Metropolitan area, but mainly within New York City's five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. In the state of New York the families have increased their criminal rackets in Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) and the counties of Westchester, Rockland and Albany. The Five Families maintain a strong presence in the state of New Jersey.[7] The crime families are also active in South Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Las Vegas.

Popular culture[edit]

Factual and fictional details of the history of the Five Families have been used in a vast array of media, specifically;

See also[edit]


  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). Five Families: 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 FAMILY ACTING BOSS, UNDERBOSS, AND TEN OTHER MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES INDICTED (archived from the original[dead link] on 2010-05-27), U.S. Department of Justice, June 4, 2008.
  6. ^ "Sicilian Wiseguy Domenico Cefalu becomes Boss of the Gambino crime family once ruled by Gottis." June 29, 2011, Five Families of New York City.
  7. ^ a b The Changing Face of Organized in New Jersey A Status Report. May 2004. (pg 105–114)
  8. ^ "New Charges for Mob Family as U.S. Indictment Names 20", New York Times April 20, 2001