Crime boss

Crime boss

A crime boss or boss is a person in charge of a criminal organization. A boss typically has absolute or near-absolute control 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 come from the criminal endeavors his organization engages in.[1][2]

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.[3]

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 within the Sicilian and American Mafia is usually as follows:[4]

  • Boss - Also known as the capofamiglia or capo crimini, this is the highest level in the criminal organization.[2][4]
  • Underboss - Also known as the "capo bastone" in some criminal organizations, this individual is the second-in-command. He is responsible for ensuring that profits from criminal enterprises flow up to the boss, and generally oversees the selection of the caporegime(s) and soldier(s) to carry out murders.[2][4]
  • 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."[5] The consigliere is third ranked in the hierarchy but does not have capos or soldiers working for him.[2][4] Like the boss, there is usually only one consigliere per criminal organization.[2]
  • 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.[2][4]
  • Soldato - Also known as a sgarrista, soldier, "button man," or "made man". This is the lowest level of mobster or gangster.[2][4] A "soldier" must have taken the omertà (oath of silence),[2][4] and in some organizations must have killed a person in order to be considered "made."[6][7] A picciotto is a low-level soldier, usually someone who does the day-to-day work of threatening, beating, and intimidating others.[8]
  • 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.[2] In Italian criminal organizations, "associates" are usually members of the criminal organization who are not of Italian descent.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Pistone, Joseph D. The Way of the Wiseguy: The FBI's Most Famous Undercover Agent Cracks the Mob Mind. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2005. ISBN 0762423846
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Manning, George A. Financial Investigation and Forensic Accounting. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2005. ISBN 0849322235
  3. ^ Organized crime enterprises originating in Sicily differ in structure from those in mainland Italy. American groups may be structured differently than their European counterparts, and Latino and African American gangs often have structures are variance from European gangs. The size of the criminal organization also is important, as regional or national gangs have much more complex hierarchies. See, variously: Albanese, Jay, ed. Contemporary Issues in Organized Crime. Monsey, N.Y.: Criminal Justice Press, 1995. ISBN 1881798046
  4. ^ a b c d e f g DeVico, Peter J. The Mafia Made Easy: The Anatomy and Culture of La Cosa Nostra. Tate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1602472548
  5. ^ "Genovese Indicitment"
  6. ^ Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. Paperback reissue. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0061096644
  7. ^ DeStefano, Anthony M. King of the Godfathers: Big Joey Massino and the Fall of the Bonanno Crime Family. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008. ISBN 0806528745
  8. ^ a b Nash, Robert Jay. World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1993. ISBN 0306805359

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