How the Mafia Works

The Commission

A meeting in Chicago cemented the formation of a multi-family Mafia committee. The seven-member Commission was initially made up of bosses from the five New York families along with Al Capone from Chicago and Stefano Maggaddino of the Buffalo family. The Commission members acted like senators for other families, bringing their concerns to the attention of the rest of the Commission. For example, the families in cities on the west coast were almost all represented by the Chicago boss. Large scale money-making activities, as well as murders and kidnappings, had to be approved by the Commission. Commission membership was determined at national Mafia meetings that were held every five years.

One of these meetings was the scene of a famous event in Mafia history -- the Apalachin Raid. On November 14, 1957, bosses (dons) from across the country met at a tiny town in New York State, near the Pennsylvania border. A suspicious state trooper led the raid and brought 58 mobsters into the spotlight -- and in many cases, brought them to trial. While the raid struck a serious blow to the Mafia, it had a more profound effect. The American public could no longer deny that the Mafia existed.

Since its formation, the Commission has shrunk -- some families have fallen out of power and no longer send representatives. Today, it is rumored to still exist, but mainly on the east coast, and it is nowhere near as powerful as it was in Lucky Luciano's day.