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The American Mafia (or simply the Mafia in the United States), also known as Cosa Nostra or La Cosa Nostra, is an Italian-American criminal society and offshoot of the Sicilian Mafia. Much like the Sicilian Mafia, the American Mafia had no formal name and is a secret criminal society. Its members usually refer to it as Cosa Nostra or by its English translation "our thing". Another translation/meaning of the term is "this thing of ours". The press has also coined the name "National Crime Syndicate" to refer to the entirety of U.S. organized crime, including the Mafia.
The Italian-American Mafia emerged in New York's Lower East Side and other areas of the East Coast of the United States during the late 19th century following waves of Sicilian and Italian immigration. It has its roots in the Sicilian Mafia, but has been a separate organization in the United States for many years. Neapolitan, Calabrian, and other Italian criminal groups merged with the Sicilian Mafia to create the modern pan-Italian Mafia in North America. Today, the Italian-American Mafia cooperates in various criminal activities with the Sicilian Mafia and other Italian organized crime groups, such as Camorra, 'Ndrangheta, and Sacra Corona Unita.
There are five main New York City Mafia families, known as the Five Families: the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno and Colombo families. The Italian-American Mafia continues to dominate organized crime in the U.S. It uses this status to maintain control over much of the organized crime activity in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Providence, New Jersey, and New York City, as well as in other cities in the Northeastern United States and across the country, such as Las Vegas, Tampa, New Orleans, Miami, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and many others. While each crime family operates independently, nationwide coordination is provided by the Commission, which usually consist of the bosses of each major family.
Reports are said to include the Italian-American Mafia as the largest organized crime group in the United States and continues to hold dominance over the National Crime Syndicate, despite the increasing numbers of street gangs and other organizations of neither Italian nor Sicilian ethnicity. Many members refer to the Italian Mafia as the "original Mafia".
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