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Organized Crime in AmericaJoanne KleinMarch 8 1996Period 4 One morning as Mario Luigi opens his family-owned shoe store a small envelope on the ground catches his eye He immediately knows what it is-another black hand letter from the Mafia If this goes on much longer I will surely go out of business he thinks angrily Immigrating to America did me no good The Mafia is everywhere One of the reasons immigrants came to America was to escape criminal organizations like the Mafia The Mafia is a secret terrorist organization that began in Naples in southern Italy From Naples the Mafia spread first to the island of Sicily off the toe of the Italian boot After ruling there for many centuries the Mafia spread to America in the 1870s and 1880s when it was brought over from Italy and southeastern Europe by immigrants The immigrants brought with them their traditions of violence crime and secret criminal organizations Although most immigrants were honest and hard-working looking for a new start and a better life some immigrants from Italy belonged to the Mafia and other criminal organizations Like Mario Luigi many Italian immigrants received a Black Hand letter Black Handletters were a type of blackmail used by the Mafia to demand money The letters were markedwith drawings of a dagger pistol or other lethal weapon If the letter was paid off therewould be no trouble until the next letter However if the letter was not paid off theimmigrants store or business could be wrecked a member of their family could be assaultedor the immigrant himself could be killed In an actual case a wealthy Brooklyn butchernamed Goetano Costa received a Black Hand letter in 1905 saying You have more money thanwe have We know of your wealth and that you are alone in this country We want 1000which you are to put in a loaf of bread and hand to a man who comes in to buy
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