The last two decades has produced several major indictments and convictions against the five families of the New York Mafia. Plagued by cooperating witnesses from with in their own ranks and increased pressure by a strengthened effort from the FBI lead to a stiff decline in the power of the Mafia in New York. But despite these waves of convictions and a decline from its heyday all five of the La Cosa Nostra families the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno, and Colombo families have all survived. Former federal prosecutor and head of the organized crime unit for U.S. Attorneys office in Brooklyn John Buretta says not only does each of the families exists but they still have a hierarchy. Amid constant rumors of their demise the New York Mafia has shown an uncanny ability to adapt and a sustain a high level of persistence.
Now with counter-terrorism becoming a top priority for law enforcement among other things like cyber crimes they have substantially cut back resources once devoted to organized crime at both local and federal levels. The FBI at one time at squads dedicated to each of the five families now only two squads remain one code named C-5 assigned to the Bonanno, Genovese, and Colombo families and C-16 assigned to the Lucchese and Gambino families. Budget constraints with in the NYPD has also caused a drastic cut back in overall detectives including ones in specialty squads dedicated to organized crime according to the president of the NYPD’s detectives union Michael Palladino. This has given organized crime a chance to reorganize and once again strengthen according to law enforcement sources and mob insiders.
Special agent in charge of the Criminal Division of the FBI’s New York office Richard Frankel said the 2014 New York Mafia families are now as powerful as they have been in years. Although not at the levels they once were when the mafia was at its peak they have staged a comeback in recent years and re-established themselves. He says they have adapted somewhat to law enforcement’s tactics and techniques and moved on to a more old school low level approach to doing business. The Mafia today has reverted back to its roots of operating in the shadows becoming as invisible as possible along with some new techniques for doing business to help protect its leadership.
The Genovese family known as the “Ivy League” of organized crime is believed to now use a rotating panel of leaders which run the day by day operations of the family avoiding the possibility of prosecutors targeting any one certain boss. Many if not all of the mob families have also adopted the “need-to-know” tactics used by terrorist cells so that each faction with in the family isn’t aware of what crimes other factions in the family are involved in making the information prosecutors can gain from informants more limited. Many of the other families have gone to the “street boss” model using a lesser known mobster to carry out orders from the hierarchy and interact with the lower level members adding an extra layer of protection.
The Genovese family is believed to currently be the strongest of the New York mafia families with as many as 200 made men leading the way with the Colombo and Lucchese families being the smaller of the families with approx 100 or so made members each. Even though these numbers are less the they were in years pasts the gap is not as substantial as many would think and the number of mob associates still remains in the thousands. While mafia families today still have a problem with newer members not following the mafia codes and rules as old school mobsters once did they are finding ways to somewhat counter act it to remain functional and profitable.