10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

One of the most interesting episodes in the HBO series “The Sopranos” was in season 6: Two Mafia goons, Burt and Patsy, try to shake down a new coffee shop in a neighborhood where their crew collects money in exchange for “protection.” But the coffee place is a corporate-owned franchise, and the manager explains that he has no access to the money; he couldn’t give it to them if he wanted to. When they threaten him, he explains threats to the store or to his own safety probably won’t matter much to the larger corporation. Leaving the shop empty-handed, one of the mobsters hangs his head and says, “It’s over for the little guy.”

The scene illustrates perfectly the outlook for the little Mafioso, too. If the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that corporate control and efficiency are just the things to loosen the Mafia’s grip of extortion. But is the same true for traditional Mafia-run businesses?

Organized criminals have long invested in legitimate business as both a base of operations and a means of laundering money from illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapons dealing, prostitution, smuggling, counterfeiting and robbery. Waste management, for example, has become so strongly tied to organized crime that in some parts of the country the term “sanitation crew” might as well be synonymous with “the Mob.”

Even as Mob types have gained higher profiles on TV and in movies, there’s still the perception that the actual Mob is less present or relevant than it was in the past. Read More