Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

Organized Crime

For decades the U.S. entertainment industry portrayed Italian-Americans as violent mobsters responsible for crime in America. But the F.B.I. reports that only 3,000 Italian-Americans are in organized crime - 0.17% of the 18 million of Italians in the U.S. Few Americans know that thousands of Italians are in law enforcement. In New York City there are 36,000 police officers and 14,000 or 40% are Italian. To mention a few: Joseph Petrosino, 1860-1909, the first Italian detective and the first New York police officer to die in the line of duty while abroad. In 1905, he was promoted to detective by Theodore Roosevelt, then city police commissioner, in 1908 he was promoted to lieutenant and he formed the Italian Squad. In March 1909, he went to Sicily to gather evidence on the mafia, but on March 12 he was murdered in Palermo by a Mafioso. 250,000 poeple came to his funeral in New York.

Another Italian, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, was a Harvard lawyer from Baltimore. He was the founder of the F.B.I. in 1935 under President Theodore Roosevelt. Then we have Angelo Siringo, 1912, a cowboy detective and cronicles of the wild west. He pursued Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and he wrote a book, "A Texas Cowboy."

Another Italian-American who moved west to fight crime is related to the most dangerous Italian gangster, Al Capone. Capone's oldest brother, Vincenzo Capone, was a respected lawman who arrested more than 20 murderers in the 1920s. He was U.S. Marshal and presidential body guard, but was so ashamed of his brother that he changed his name to Richard Hart. He went out west and became a prohibition officer. Ironically, while Al Capone was bootlegging in Chicago, his brother was arresting horse thieves in Nebraska. He served as bodyguard for President Calvin Coolidge and he concealed his Italian heritage until 1949, only a few years before his death in 1952.

According to the F.B.I., today organized crime includes Russian mobsters, African drug traffickers, Chinese tongs, Asian crime rings and Eastern Europe gangs!!