Salvatore Maranzano

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Salvatore Maranzano (July 31, 1886 - September 10, 1931) was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss in the United States. He instigated the Castellammarese War to seize control of the American mafia operations, and briefly became the Mafia's "Boss of Bosses". He was assassinated by a younger faction led by Lucky Luciano, who established a power-sharing arrangement rather than a "boss of bosses" to prevent future wars.


Early life

As a youngster, Maranzano had wanted to become a priest and even studied to become one, but later became associated with the Mafia in his homeland. Maranzano had a very commanding presence, and was greatly respected by his underworld peers. He had a fascination with Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire and enjoyed talking to his less-educated American mafia counterparts about these subjects.[1]

Early career

Maranzano emigrated to the United States in 1925, settling in Brooklyn. While building a legitimate business as a real estate broker, he also maintained a growing bootleg liquor business.

Castellammarese War

Maranzano began to invade the territory of Joe "The Boss" Masseria. Maranzano hijacked truckloads of Masseria's liquor and started taking over Masseria's speakeasies. This led to a bloody underworld battle known as the Castellammarese War. While outnumbered at the outset of the war, Maranzano and his fellow Castellamarese grew stronger as the war progressed. The war ended after one of Masseria's lieutenants, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, helped orchestrate Masseria's murder in April 1931 in return for being considered an equal to Maranzano.[1]

Boss of All Bosses

Maranzano was once the most powerful gangster in New York. Two weeks after Masseria's murder, Maranzano called together several hundred Mafiosi at a banquet hall at an undisclosed location in Upstate New York. Maranzano laid out his vision of a new gangland, structured on hierarchical lines. The New York Mafia would be organized into Five Families, headed by himself, Luciano (his second-in-command), Profaci, Vincent Mangano and Thomas Gagliano. In addition, Maranzano created a special position for himself — Boss of All Bosses.

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