Feature Articles

February 2005

Help Wanted... Who wants to Join the Mafia?

Journalist Clarence Walker Responds to Mafia fans'
fascination with the Dark Underworld.

By Clarence Walker, Investigative Reporter & Crime Story Producer (Houston, Texas)

     The Mafia is looking for a few 'bad' men: Can you shoot a bullet into the back of someone's head? Can you kill enemies and bury them in concrete; run gambling, loansharking and extortion operations? Are you good at blackmail and drive a getaway car? If you were facing many years behind bars on racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder---could you obey the omerta code of silence and not become the rat that never stop squealing? How about this: Can you cram lasagne into your mouth and say, "fugedaboutit" at the same time? If your answer is yes, the Mafia may have a job for you. Wait a minute. This is only a humorous pretext. To join the American Mafia( La Cosa Nostra) isn't quite as easy as it sounds. Who knows, since there is a severe shortage of members among the five top crime families; many are either dead or in prison---you might qualify to join today's dark underworld that has fascinated the American society for decades. Last year,U.S. government and Italy organize crime authorities reported that American Mafia were recruiting the Sicilians to join Cosa Nostra.On this site read:(A special investigative report: American Mafia recruits Sicilian Mafia). With so many rats squealing on each other and recent reports that convicted murderer, Bonnano boss Joey Massino had become the first crimeboss in Mafia history to become a snitch. Who really wants to join the Mafia?

     "For anyone to join today's Mafia is like joining a dying breed of criminals", an FBI agent once said. It doesn't matter if the membership or the notoriety of the Italian mafia has declined over the years the word Mafia is as popular as any icon in American history, 'dead or alive'. Remember Italian Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Wanna-be Mafia Gangsters: A Journalist Perspective

     As a crime journalist and crime story producer for and other prominent news media and T.V. networks, I've received tons of email from readers of Americanmafia--asking, how-to join the Mafia. Now don't laugh, please. What'd you think about this? Mafia fans and curious readers have asked to use my connections as a journalist to get a membership application from Mafia groups.

     Personally, myself, nor the writers or producers of Americanmafia have access to Mafia membership. Never heard of an application. Certainly, though, in the business of writing about Mafia and organize crime, myself and fellow journalists, does in fact, have underworld contacts for investigative reporting purposes only.

     According to Dave Peppers, an anonymous long time mob associates, tells Americanmafia: "You really don't join the mafia. They select you if you become an ideal candidate. A person usually do business with them or with someone who knows them. Pepper added, "Throughout your business dealings an opinion is formed about you". For those die-hard fans' aspirations to join a dangerous, secretive organization that carry out extreme violence and evilness let me say it does stimulates my brains to ask: What is it about the Mafia so attractive to people? What really draw people into their sordid but glamorous world? Is it for big-time money to live a life of wealth and status? Is it the mystique of having protection, the power to intimidate; living life on the edge of the law? Maybe its the possession of power to destroy rivals or metamorphosize into some kind of physical God----the ultimate ruler over earthly humans. Who knows for sure?We must admit the La Cosa Nostra Mafia represents the dark side of the American dream. There's an ole saying---we're fascinated by intriguing villains. So the Mafia is just that. They are enemies and freinds within society and enemies of the U.S. government. Murder and violence is like playing a game of poker for the Mafia but we love to see them as tough guys who has the fortitude to rebell against the law of the land.

     I am surprised to discover some Mafia fans haven't read books, articles and volumes of info reports about Mafia history which clearly documents in plain, but explicit details of a Mafia operation and how men are inducted into a Mafia family. C'mon folks, research your target by firing up internet search engines and:(input organize crime, Mafia history or the word mob). A trip into a bookstore or library will provide numerous selections of Mafia material. Do not feel disappointed but joining the Mafia is nothing like joining the civic club. Retired FBI agent Bruce Mouw,.....believes.... "A lots of Mafia guys are psychopaths. "The Mafia isn't something to glamorize". Mouw also said today's mafiosi' differ from the mobsters of the 1920s and the 1930s.

     "There are no honor among these guys. Its not like the Godfather movies where you've got the local mafioso who settles a neighborhood dispute and kinda 'right' the wrong".

     What you are about to read is a mini-version of how the La Cosa Nostra Mafia operate before we get into what it takes to join a Mafia family. If a person is born into a blood family with a tradition of producing men of honor this advantage enhances the chance for membership. Remember (fans) La Cosa Nostra is, in fact, an organization, not a network of blood relatives. To become a member you must undergo an initiation ritual.

Mafia Infrastructure

     The foregoing information, according to my research, represents the structure of La Cosa Nostra. The Mafia consists of a chain-command similiar to a legit enterprise. First start with the commission:

  • . Mafiosio 'Mustache Petes' Maranzano was the first of the legendary 'dons' to create the commission. Maranzano was killed during the Castellemmarese wars that ended in 1931. When Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky became Mafia members the commission was called the National Syndicate.
  • . Structural elements of the commission consists of the bosses of the five New York crime families including the lower-profile families in states across the country.
  • . How does the commission function? Each boss from different families hold meetings to settle disputes over territory rights and decisions within the Mafia business were usually settled without bloodshed.
  • .When time came to murder someone a vote among bosses were taken. Rebellious wiseguys who murdered anyone without approval were killed also. Traditionally among La Cosa Nostra anyone not of Italian descent was prohibited to become an official member. Non-Italians could only serve as an associate with the family. Non-Italian associates often played important roles in family affairs and the 'made-men' respected them enough to make legal and business decisions for the family. Older mafiosos' referred to non-Italian associates as "Giovane D' Honore". Actually, many legendary gangsters and racketeers like Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Myer Lansky, Johnny Torrio, John Dillinger, "Machine Gun" Kelly and "Baby Face" Nelson were never members of the American Mafia. Most of them were not even Italian or Sicilian but these guys sometimes worked with and for the Mafia but they weren't members.

         Now its time to educate and reveal what it really take to join the La Cosa Nostra. Keep in mind the information you're about to read is for educational purposes and not an endorsement by journalist C.Walker or producers of to try joining the Mafia or organize crime. Don't feel offended there are no gurantee you will be accepted in the Mafia but the following information is usually how a 'wanna be' can possibly join the group or at least be chosen:

         Lets use a fictional guy name Carmine De'Angelo and follow his journey ito a Mafia family. As the story unfolds,occasionally, we will refer to De'Angelo as 'Dee". First of all, ex-wiseguys and law enforcement officers agree: De'Angelo need to know someone already in the Mafia; someone willing to befreind him with important players in the game. Dee came from a middle-class family in New Jersey. His uncle and grandfather were members of the La Cosa Nostra before a team of assasians whacked them for the betrayal of the omerta code. De'Angelo was a straight-A student and outstanding High school football player. Dee grew up idolizing his uncle and grandfather's mob connections but he possessed a burning desire to become a professional football player and youth counselor for troubled teenagers.

         While chatting with fellow wiseguys over a plate of cannolis, Carlos introduced Dee as, "a freind of mines". This mutual greeting signifies the message that Dee wants to get inside their world. Since Carlos vouched for Dee and the fact His uncle and grandfather were once respectable 'made men' in the Mafia the wiseguys chanced the young man's ability to earn money for the family.

         Dedication and hard work is very important for Dee. Without fear, He must show Carlos and His people He can master the art of Mafia-type work. Next, Carlos sends a message to all the crews that a guy name Dee needs work.

         As a rule Carlos must watch Dee because if He turns out to be a 'rat' the command staff would kill Carlos. Dee's main goal was to be a real-life Mafia hitman----the kind he'd read about in books and saw on the Godfather and Scarface movies. Carlos had Dee to perform low-level criminal jobs for small amounts of cash or no compensation. This process is done to gain trust and respect---a chance to show ability to earn big-time money for the family. If He does well more lucrative jobs would follow. As this process evolves, Carlos, will groom Dee; teach him the ropes of La Cosa Nostra but never reveal the whole infrastructral of the family or its secrets.

         Within short time, Dee's ingenuity adapted well on the streets as He carried out extortions and gambling. Periodically, He committed armed robberies and burglaries to fatten the money flow, but still He had miles to travel to reach the pinnacle of being a 'made man'.

    Murder Call

         Murder is the Mafia trademark. The Underboss asked Carlos if He felt His 'wanna be' protege, Dee, was ready to ice blood. He's a little green but He's pretty sharp and done well so far, Carlos tells the Underboss."Let's give him the code#3 hit on Greenwood street', the Underboss commanded. When Carlos gave Dee the low down on the target, he blushed with excitement. He envisioned himself carrying out a real-live murder; a chance to show the ability to kill, hoping to become officially made. Like clockwork, everything went down as planned. When Dee's target exited a shiny vehicle---he ran up to the guy and pumped bullets into his chest and head. This kill only inspired Dee to kill more victims. His dreams of being a hitman for the Mafia played itself into reality. Though he was a killer but the Mafia boss had not anointed him yet.

         Finally Carlos tells Dee over drinks, "good work, pal". "You've done well for the family and the boss okayed the command group to make you an associate". Carlos reminds him that he's not officially made yet; be careful and stay ready for more work. Though Dee is not 'made' but as an associate he can earn more money taking orders from the command staff. If Dee's work proves worthy he might be chosen to officially join the Mafia. As time pass Carlos keeps track of his protege as he keeps making money from the rackets and loansharking and he reported Dee's progress back to command staff. Having survived this far in the brutal underworld the handsome De'Angelo was hungry for promotion. Meanwhile a couple of Wiseguys went to prison for a long stretch and three were murdered. Revenge against the rival killers were imminent. For Dee, with five men gone the family needed fresh recruits. Carlos, his freind, who introduced him to the family, calls for a meeting to recommend the aspiring football player for that 'once in a lifetime promotion.

    Mafia Induction

         This is the profound moment for De'Angelou to sell his soul to the Mafia; a sacrifical moment of brotherhood in blood. An induction ceremony is presided over by the boss, underboss, the consiglieri and other ranked members. Except for the fictional names mentioned the following is a true-life Mafia induction ceremony recorded by FBI in 1995:

         Boss: "Today we are here to bring in a new member into our family--this thing of ours, to induct Carmine De'Angelo".

         Next, the group hold hands while making a circle. As Dee approach the men, the circle is broken by the boss. Dee is led into the circle. Once the boss open up the circle this move is a symbol of family unity opening up to accept the new member(Carmine De'Angelou) into the family. Retired FBI agent Bruce Mouw once spoke harsh words about John Gotti introducing Gotti Jr. into the Gambino Mafia. "The worst Gotti ever done was put his own son into the Mafia".

         Before Dee is finally 'made' the boss test his heart:

    Boss: "De'Angelo, do you have brothers and sisters?"

    DEE: "Yes".

    Boss: "If I told you---your brother was a rat, he's gonna harm us, you'd have to kill him. Would you do that for the family?

    Dee: "Yes".

    Boss: "Your mother, child or wife, is dying in bed and you needed to leave either (one) because we called on you. Could you do that, Dee?"

    Dee: Takes a deep breath, exhales, then says, "yes, yes".

    The boss even has an uncanny sense of humor:

    Boss: "If you were a contestant on 'Who wants to be a millionaire' and used up all your life lines; would you give Regis a beatin' till he told you the right answer".

    Dee: "Well, yes".

    Boss: "And thats your final answer".

    Dee: "Yes"

    Boss:"Alright, so this is what you want. We're the best people. We're gonna make you part of this thing", Dee.

         As Dee prepare for the Mafia oath his 'trigger finger' is cut. Members extract blood from the wound. Presenting a holy card showing the image of the family's saint is burned on Dee's hand. Still in a circle the Mafia family make eye-to-eye contact with the recruit as he pledge the following oath:

         Boss: "Repeat after me. "I, Carmine De'Angelo, want to enter this secret organization to protect my family and brothers. I swear not to divulge this secret and to obey with love and omerta. As this saint burns--so will burn my soul. I enter alive into this organization and can only leave dead".

         Having pledged heart, mind and soul, Carmine De'Angelo has became what many people fantasize of being; something that society fear but admire---a real-life Mafia gangster. Anyone who'd watched Mafia stories on T.V. or the movies, and read books should be familiar with the word Omerta-- a mafia code of silence. Omerta is a vow by wiseguys never to reveal Mafia secrets or reveal information to members under threat of torture or death.

         Dee's first position with the family was to serve as a soldier--a low-level 'made man' who teams up with a crew of associates to operate Mafia-type jobs. A soldier also reports directly to a capo or captain. Actually, a soldier can be a picciotto, which is what a new 'made man' becomes. A more important soldier is a sgarrista who mostly operate his own rackets, earning a higher percentage of profits.

         Interviewed years ago, Sonny 'Capo' Black, a former wiseguy, described the rise to the top in La Cosa Nostra: "The whole thing is how strong you are, how much power you got and how mean you are". "Thats what make you rise in the mob because every day is a struggle;you don't know who's looking to knock you off, especially if you become captain, underboss or the boss". Black added these poignant words, "you always got to be on your toes. Every day is a scam to keep your power and position".

    Mafia-Style Murder

    Mafia gangsters would often kill and dispose of the body into a barrel. The barrel would be dumped in the ocean or shipped by rail to another city. The last known highly publicized barrel murder was reported in 1976 when the body of Johnny Roselli was found in a 55 gallon oil drum in the Florida Everglades. Roselli was a conspirator with U.S. CIA's plot to assasinate Fidel Castro of Cuba.

         .Dead Man Eyes: In typical fashion,occasionally, when someone died at the hands of a mafiosos'the last scene is forever imprinted on the retina of their eyes that was blown out by a high-caliber weapon. That was a Sicilian belief.

         .Ice Pick Murder: This method of murder is done to make it look like the person died of natural causes. Surrounded by four killers an ice pick is forced through the victim' eardrum that goes into the brain.

         This causes a cerebral hemorrage. (Ice Pick Willie) Alderman from Minnesota was the Mafia' favorite to carry out ice pick killings. .

          Italian Rope Trick: The mafiosos' raps a rope around the victim's neck and a tug of war ensuses as the victim is strangled to death.

    Rico Law

         Our fictional character, Carmine De'Angelo, has been in the Mafia for years as a hitman and racket operator, earning huge sums of money for personal family and Mafia family. He'd earned millions---the kind of money people can only dream of. Unknown to him, a wiseguy name Rocco was busted by the FBI on charges of racketeeering and extortion. FBI succesfully 'flipped' the wiseguy to become an informant to help bust the crew that Dee operated. "You're looking at Rico time", the agent warned Rocco. You're facing up to 50 years in prison. "What'd you wanna do? You want short time or long time? Your choice?" Rocco's wife is expecting a child and he has two more he would love to see grow up. "Alright guys, I'll help you take De'Angelo down".

         So what does Rico law really mean to De'Angelo and Mafia gansters? Rico is the:(Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Act; 18 u.s.c.1962); a federal law that prosecute criminal acts as part of continuing criminal enterprise. Historians agree the Rico name and acronym were selected in reference to the fictional character who played gangster Rico in the popular movie 'Little Caesar'. Little Caesar is a 1930 crime drama which tells the story of a notorious gangster called Rico who works his way up the ranks of the mob. In 2000, the U.S. library of congress awarded the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. A famous quote from the movie is profoundly memorable: As the once powerful mobster laid dying he uttered these words---"Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?"

         Under Rico, a person or group who commits any (two) of 35 crimes--27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes within a 10 year period has committed those crimes for similar purpose can be charged with racketeering. Racketeering is a pattern of criminal activities committed by the Mafia or organize crime defendants that involves extortion, bribery, loansharking, murder, attempted murder, illegal drug sales, prostitution, gambling, and theft rings. Such crimes constitutes an ongoing criminal enterprise. Anyone convicted of racketeering can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison on each count and fined up to $25,000.00

    Rico remains the most powerful weapon for the U.S. Government against the Mafia and organize crime. Rico law was either filed against or convicted these wiseguys:

    (1) John Gotti Sr.

    (2) Paul Castellano(murdered by John Gotti prior to trial)

    (3) Funzi Tieri( is the first mafiosi' convicted under Rico in 1981). Tieri was the Genovese family boss. Sentenced to 10 years in prison he died before serving the sentence.

    (4) Tony Salerno (died in prison)

    (5) Vincent "chin" Gigante

    (6) Carlos Marcello (New Orleans)

    (7) Angelo Lonardo (Cleveland Ohio)

    (8) Joe Aiuppa (Chicago)

    (9) Rocco Infelise (Chicago)

    (10) Nick Civella (K.C. Missouri)

    (11) Joe "Big Joey" Massino (Bonnano family)

    (12) Anthony Corallo (Luchesse family) Serving 100 years in prison.

    (13) Carmine Persico (Colombo family) Serving 100 years in prison.

    (14) Sam Carlisi (Chicago)

    (15) Vic Orena (Colombo family)

    (16) Tony 'Ducks' Carollo (New Orleans)

    (17) Phil Stanfa (Philadephia)

    (18) Frances "Cadillac Frank" Salemme (New England Boss)

    (19) Martin Taccetta (Underboss Luchese family)

    (20) Stephen "Rifleman" Flemmi ( Winter Hill Irish Mafia)

    (21) Joey "Skinny" Merlino (Philadephia)

    (22) John Gotti Jr.

    (23) Nick Corrozzo (Gambino family)

    (24) Peter Gotti (Gambino family)

         Our fictional gangster, De'Angelo, is one cold-blood Mafia hitman and 'big-time' money earner for La Cosa Nostra. Trouble was on the horizon as Rocco, the snitch, allowed the FBI to wire him up with a recorder that captured the voice of Dee engaging in organize crime including his boasts of committing murders for the family. Unknown to Dee he was a sitting duck for Rico---the same law that convicted most of the aforementioned crime bosses and 'made men'---the same law that put away the untouchable "Teflon Don" John Gotti. Will Dee snitch off the boss and other members or play 'hard ball' and go to trial?

    Carmine De'Angelo-VS- U.S.Government

         Federal charges of murder and racketeering were filed against De'Angelo. FBI initiated a manhunt for the young hitman. Within days, his journey into the glorified, brutal underworld finally ended in a odd but precariously way. Dee, accompanied by his wife, arrived for a wedding of a wiseguy' freind, whose brother, ironically, was murdered by Dee and his crew months earlier in a Mafia war.

         FBI agents confronted the hitman after they saw him enter the house. "Freeze police!" Dee, obviously stunned, whirled around, and pointed a weapon. "Throw it down", another agent yelled. Surprisingly, instead of firing the weapon, the gangster threw it on the floor and fled. Agents chased him throughout the mansion. Everyone were shocked

         Infuriated, the groom shouted at the agents. "Hey guys, show "got dam" respect!" "Respect?" an agent shot back. "This (sob) De'Angelo killed your brother. This is why we're here!" As agents led the killer away in cuffs the groom and his bride stared at him. They wondered. How could a person be so cold to kill one brother and attend the wedding of the dead man's brother to bless the marriage? In a display of 'death before dishonor'...Dee, the handsome younster who idolized the Mafia whose goal in life was to become a professional football player did not rat against his Mafia family.

         Carmine De'Angelo fulfilled dreams of becoming a Mafia gangster and being wealthy but the final chapter of his life dissolved into a life time nightmare. Convicted of four murders and racketeering a Federal Judge sentenced him to life without parole. De'Angelo Mafia career and his goals of becoming a professional football player and helping young troubled teenagers is over.


    Elements of the story about the fictional Carmine De'Angelo and His arrest at the wedding of the man whose brother was killed by De'Angelo is based on real-life mob associate John Pappas. For more info on Mafia terms and terminology go to:

    Any comments? Give us your thoughts. Contact Clarence Walker, at or

    Important warning: In accordance with federal law, Title 17 U.S.C., Section 107, the entirety of the material in this story is not for reprint or distribution. Such action violates copyright laws and constitutes plagiarism. Thereby use of material without prior consent from the author, credited news sources or publishers of and its news media affiliates are prohibited.

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