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Omerta: Mafia Code of Silence

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What is omertà, and how does it apply to organized crime? Explain the characteristic features of the code of conduct followed by Sicilian American criminal groups. How does this code affect the organization of crime syndicates?

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Those who are fans of the series of novels on the Italian Mafia by Mario Puzo (1969) will be familiar with the notion of Omerta, the code of silence that the Mafioso - members of the criminal organization known as the Mafia, who largely hail from the island of Sicily, Italy, are expected to practice and honor in all their dealings against friend or foe. The Mafia, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (n.d.) are, "are some of the most notorious and widespread of all criminal societies...There are several groups currently active in the U.S.: the Sicilian Mafia; the Camorra or Neapolitan Mafia; the 'Ndrangheta or Calabrian Mafia; and the Sacra Corona Unita or United Sacred Crown...We estimate the four groups have approximately 25,000 members total, with 250,000 affiliates worldwide. There are more than 3,000 members and affiliates in the U.S., scattered mostly throughout the major cities in the Northeast, the Midwest, California, and the South. Their largest presence centers around New York, southern New Jersey, and Philadelphia." Also referred to as La Costa Nostra, their organized crime activities are worth in the Billions of dollars derived from drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering illegal gambling, political corruption, extortion, kidnapping, fraud, counterfeiting, murders, bombings, weapons trafficking and infiltration of legal business to ...

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