THE ITALIAN MAFIA and its American counterpart has been the most high-profile organized crime genre for much of the 20th century. Increasingly, the term Mafia can be applied to any group of nefarious underground criminals, whether of Russian, Indian, Mexican, Jewish, or Italian heritage, who engage in organized crime. Organized crime, in turn, can be broadly defined as two or more persons conspiring together on a continuing and secretive basis to participate in profit-oriented illegal activities. Like other criminal organizations, the Mafia (also known in America as Cosa Nostra) is involved in a myriad of unsavory activities.

In addition to common organized criminal conspiracies, such as extortion, illegal gambling, smuggling, loan-sharking, and drug trafficking, the American mafia has been involved in what can be classified as ...

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