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“At times there were five murders a day.” --Letizia Battaglia in Shooting the Mafia (2019)

"The American Mafia is a secret criminal society depicted in numerous books, films, and television series including The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos."--Sholem Stein

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A mafia is a type of organized crime syndicate whose primary activities are protection racketeering, arbitrating disputes between criminals, and brokering and enforcing illegal agreements and transactions. Mafias often engage in secondary activities such as gambling, loan sharking, drug-trafficking, prostitution, and fraud.

The term "mafia" was originally applied only to the Sicilian Mafia and originates in Sicily, but it has since expanded to encompass other organizations of similar methods and purpose, e.g., "the Russian Mafia" or "the Japanese Mafia". The term is applied informally by the press and public; the criminal organizations themselves have their own terms (e.g. the Sicilian Mafia and the related Italian-American Mafia refer to their organizations as "Cosa Nostra"; the "Japanese Mafia" calls itself "Gokudō" but is more commonly known as "Yakuza" by the public; and "Russian Mafia" groups often call themselves "Bratva").

When used alone and without any qualifier, "Mafia" or "the Mafia" typically refers to either the Sicilian Mafia or the American Mafia and sometimes Italian organized crime in general (e.g., Camorra, 'Ndrangheta, etc.).


  1. An international criminal organization of Sicilian origin operating in Italy and the United States.
  2. A coverall term used to describe any organized criminal syndicates, individually or collectively, specifically those operating internationally in high level organized crime including drug smuggling and cultivation, fraud, loan sharking and prostitution.


Derived terms

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mafia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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