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    Salvatore Maranzano (July 31, 1886 âââ‰â¬Å September 10, 1931) was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss in the United States. He instigated the Castellammarese War to seize control of the American Mafia operations, and briefly became the Mafia’s “Boss of Bosses”. He was assassinated by a younger faction led by Lucky Luciano, who established a power-sharing arrangement rather than a “boss of bosses” to prevent future wars.


    Early life

    As a youngster, Maranzano had wanted to become a priest and even studied to become one, but later became associated with the Mafia in his homeland. Maranzano had a very commanding presence, and was greatly respected by his underworld peers. He had a fascination with Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire and enjoyed talking to his less-educated American Mafia counterparts about these subjects.


    Early career

    Maranzano emigrated to the United States in 1925, settling in Brooklyn. While building a legitimate business as a real estate broker, he also maintained a growing bootleg liquor business.


    Castellammarese War

    Maranzano began to invade the territory of Joe “The Boss” Masseria. Maranzano hijacked truckloads of Masseria’s liquor and started taking over Masseria’s speakeasies. This led to a bloody underworld battle known as the Castellammarese War. While outnumbered at the outset of the war, Maranzano and his fellow Castellamarese grew stronger as the war progressed. The war ended after one of Masseria’s lieutenants, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, helped orchestrate Masseria’s murder in April 1931 in return for being considered an equal to Maranzano.


    Boss of All Bosses

    Maranzano was now the most powerful gangster in New York. Two weeks after Masseria’s murder, Maranzano called together several hundred Mafiosi at a banquet hall at an undisclosed location in Upstate New York. Maranzano laid out his vision of a new gangland, structured on hierarchical lines. The New York Mafia would be organized into Five Families, headed by himself, Luciano (his second-in-command), Profaci, Vincent Mangano and Thomas Gagliano. In addition, Maranzano created a special position for himself âââ‰â¬Â Boss of All Bosses.

    Maranzano also laid rules for a Mafia Commission; among other things, he outlawed random killings, and he prohibited anyone in The Commission from talking about the Mafia or its activities to anyone outside, even if the outsider was just the gangster’s wife. Anyone who broke any of these rules would be punished by death.[1]

    To signal his dominance to the nation’s other crime bosses, Maranzano called a meeting in Wappingers Falls, New York to tell Al Capone and other influential mafiosi nationwide that he was now the leader of New York Mafia operations.[1]

    However, Maranzano’s scheming, his arrogant treatment of his subordinates, and his fondness for comparing his organization to the Roman Empire (he attempted to model the organization after Caesar’s military chain of command) did not sit well with Luciano and his ambitious friends, like Vito Genovese, Frank Costello and others.[1] Luciano came to believe that Maranzano was more power-hungry than Masseria had been.[1] Despite his advocacy for modern methods of organization, including capos overseeing crews that did the bulk of the families’ work,[1] many younger mafiosi resented him as a “Mustache Pete” âââ‰â¬Â an old-school mafioso too steeped in Old World ways. For instance, he was opposed to Luciano’s partnership with Jewish gangsters such as Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. In fact, Luciano and his colleagues had intended all along to bide their time before getting rid of Maranzano as well.

    Maranzano realized this soon enough, and began planning the murder of Luciano, Genovese, Costello and others. Maranzano did not act quickly enough, though: by the time he hired Mad Dog Coll to murder Luciano and Genovese, Luciano, aided by Meyer Lansky, had already found out about Maranzano’s plans.



    Luciano arranged for Samuel “Red” Levine and three other gangsters provided by Lansky to go to Maranzano’s offices on September 10, 1931, posing as police detectives. Once inside his office on the 9th floor of The Helmsley Building, they disarmed Maranzano’s guards. The four men then shot and stabbed Salvatore Maranzano to death. As they fled down the stairs, they met Coll on his way upstairs for his appointment with Maranzano. They warned him that there had been a raid, and he fled too.

    Following Maranzano’s death, Luciano and his colleagues reorganized the Five Families and abolished the position of “capo di tutti capi.” Maranzano’s crime family was inherited by Joseph Bonanno and became known as the Bonanno family.

    Maranzano and his wife Elisabetta (who died in 1964) are buried in Saint John’s Cemetery, Queens, located in New York City, near the graves of Luciano and Genovese.



    Cole Phelps
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    It’s a very thrilling story. I like these ones, too.

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    Thank-you Cole, you see those are real life stories, for 22 years has journalist it was my duty to write about those person, my boss use to say your the honiest person i ever meet, but you have a real criminal mind. because i was able to predict their next moves.


    1970 Imagine my first assaignement was the CECO (Commission d’enquÃÆête sur le crime organisÃÆé) enquiery commison on organise crime) in the same time came out the movie THE GODFATHER, and Montreal was a mafia war zone, during the day i was in court getting stories and at night i use to cover murder that happens that day. It was the first time i realy see a vendetta sicilian style, with a lupara 2 shoots no more head and the Lupara left on site. With is the sign of a vendetta,

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    my life was a thrill, i live beside the mafia, i respected them they respected me, because i always speak my mind . and i never cross the line to be a target and crazy preacher came from one of them, he use to say he crazy like a preacher.

    Bank Notes: $ 305

    There is plenty more information on Salvatore Martanzano in my acclaimed book:




    David Critchley, “The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York Mafia, 1891-1931”.  Enjoy.  In hardcopy and papercopy versions.



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