14 Things We Just Learned About The Mafia That Made Us Say 'Whoa'

Voting Rules
Vote up the mafia facts that are so interesting you'd come out of witness protection to say 'Whoa'!

Pop culture has had a long fascination with the mafia. Every country has had to deal with organized crime, but for some reason the Italian mafia migration and formation in the United States has taken hold of Hollywood's collective imagination and produced works like no other. And in spite of the crime and the violence that inspires it, we continue to feed into this fascination, watching the movies and shows and wanting more.

It started with Cosa Nostra which translates literally to "our thing." Families grew and expanded all over Italy and eventually immigrated to the United States, taking up residence on the east coast and slowly expanding westward. Redditors share the most fascinating facts they can about the mafia, without stirring up too much trouble.

  • 'The Godfather' Needed The Mafia's Blessing To Be Made, But Couldn't Say 'Mafia'
    Photo: The Godfather / Paramount Pictures

    From Redditor u/johnnylgarfield:

    TIL the 1972 hit movie The Godfather does not contain the words ‘mafia’ or 'La Cosa Nostra’ because of a deal struck between the producer and the real mafia.

    Context: Joe Colombo Sr. and his son Anthony lobbied the producers of The Godfather through the Italian-American Civil Rights League to not include the word "Mafia" in the final shooting script. Producers seemed to have the understanding that should they not comply, there may be labor strikes, missing equipment, and missing cast members.

    1,813 votes
  • Al Capone Raked In The Modern Equivalent Of $1.3 Billion A Year
    Photo: Chicago Bureau / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    From Redditor u/truehalf:

    TIL at his peak, mafia boss Al Capone was making an annual income of $1.3 billion in today’s dollars.

    Context: In the late 1920s through the early '30s, Chicago's Al Capone was making about $105 million a year, the modern equivalent of $1.3 billion. But it was hardly all profit. Nearly one third of it went to payroll. Other gangsters, judges, politicians, reporters, and police were all required to keep his enterprise running.

    1,695 votes
  • Lucky Luciano Helped The US Effort In WWII
    Photo: Remo Nassi / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    From Reddito u/Majorwetod:

    TIL How the American mafia helped the Allied forces during WWII. Mob boss Lucky Luciano was eventually granted his freedom from prison for his help. Part of the deal was he had to agree to deportation back to Italy.

    Context: In 1942 a US troop carrier ship caught fire and capsized in Manhattan harbour in a suspected act of sabotage. It was well known that the mafia controlled the docks at the time so the Navy reached out to imprisoned mafioso Salvatore "Lucky" Lucanio. Lucky ordered that any suspicious activity along the docks and waterfronts be reported to the authorities and guaranteed that there would be no strikes from the dock workers. In exchange, his sentence was commuted and he was deported to Italy.

    1,522 votes
  • The Mafia Believed That 'The Sopranos' Had A Wise Guy On The Inside
    Photo: The Sopranos / HBO

    From Redditor u/TheAtheistArab87:

    TIL that during the heyday of The Sopranos FBI wiretaps of the real mafia revealed that the show was so realistic the real mobsters thought there was a connected guy feeding storylines for the show.

    Context: Executive producer Terrence Winter revealed in a Vanity Fair interview that FBI agents would hear members of the mob discussing the show on their wiretaps. The mafioso believed the depictions were too accurate for the show not to have a wise guy working for them on the inside.

    2,074 votes
  • The FBI Recruited A Mafia Enforcer To 'Interrogate' A Klansman
    Photo: Joyson Noel / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,332 VOTES

    The FBI Recruited A Mafia Enforcer To 'Interrogate' A Klansman

    From Redditor u/madazzahatter:

    TIL the FBI recruited a mafia enforcer to help solve the slaying of three civil rights workers by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in the 1960s. Gregory Scarpa kidnapped a klansman, put a gun in his mouth and forced him to reveal the spot where the three had been buried.

    Context: Gregory Scarpa was a capo and hitman for the Colombo crime family and claimed he was recruited by the FBI in the 1960s to use illegal interrogation methods on a member of the Ku Klux Klan to find the find missing bodies of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner.

    2,332 votes
  • The "Boss Of All Bosses" Has Been On The Run For Nearly 30 Years, Leaving Almost No Trail
    Photo: Italian police / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,090 VOTES

    The "Boss Of All Bosses" Has Been On The Run For Nearly 30 Years, Leaving Almost No Trail

    From Redditor u/happyseann:

    TIL: The appropriately dubbed ‘boss of all bosses’ of the Italian Mafia has been on the run for 26 years, and has been so successful at it that not a single picture exists of him from that time, despite being one of the worlds top 10 most wanted criminals.

    Context: Matteo Messina Denaro, known as Diabolik, is the godfather of the Sicilian crime syndicate, and following the deaths of rivals in 2016 and 2017, he is the unquestioned boss of all bosses within the Mafia. He has been on the run from the law since 1993, yet almost no photos exist of him other than an old driver's liscence and a VFX composite of the now nearly 60-year-old man.

    2,090 votes