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The Cosa Nostra was controlling the wholesale heroin market in the United States and making rivers of dollars.
The Camorra also died out at one point, principally because of a huge trial in 1911 to 1912.
Since that point, Camorra has actually meant a number of different things, as I have already mentioned, ranging from common-or-garden smuggling gangs to much bigger, more formally structured crime groups.
To some extent that’s also true of the Camorra and ’Ndrangheta, where the magistrature has also enjoyed some success.
But we are still talking about deep-rooted organisations able to collect protection money.
Those are the three major ones, although there are smaller ones too.
As I say in my book Mafia Brotherhoods, Italy doesn’t just have a mafia, it has a criminal ecosystem in which existing mafias evolve and new ones come into being. Their origins are tied very closely to the emergence of Italy as a unified state. The long process leading up to Italian unification – was much more of a revolution and was more violent than it was in the rest of the country.Add to that, it had also heavily infiltrated the Italian state.The two Salvo cousins – who were probably both Men of Honour, as mafia initiates are known – ran the company that collected most of Sicily’s taxes and pocketed about 10% of the island’s tax revenue.The entire historical leadership of the Sicilian mafia, for example, is behind bars apart from one man – Matteo Messina Denaro.That doesn’t mean that the mafia is dead – far from it.The book makes uncomfortable reading because it uses sex and sexuality as a metaphor for all of this.Sonny is basically a walking male member – the novel talks an awful lot about the dimensions of his virilia.When a war is about to be fought, alliances are made by marrying off your daughter to the son of another family.Or if a war has just ended, you seal the peace with a marriage. This is a very specific mafia form of behaviour to do with the politics of the organisations and with finding ways to project their power and wealth down through the generations.The easiest way to define a mafia is as a freemasonry of criminals – it’s the freemasons for murderers – and that’s what the Cosa Nostra and ’Ndrangheta are.The Camorra is different in that it’s a catch-all term for a much less centrally coordinated archipelago of gangs that range from city drug dealers to clans that look much more like the Sicilian mafia, like the Casalesi – who threatened to kill the journalist Roberto Saviano.