By Angelo Carmelo Gallitto
Cosa Nostra usually has a hierarchical and pyramidal structure. It is formed by groups, known as “families” or “cosche”, named after the village or neighbourhood where they are located. Every single “family” is formed by the associates or “avvicinati”, the soldiers or “picciotti” and by an administration composed by consigliere, underboss, and the boss, who runs the “family”. The size of a “family” changes and the larger ones are divided into crews of soldiers, known as “decine” and run by captains or “capidecina”, who are the link between the soldiers and the bosses.
Three or more neighbouring “families” form the “mandamento”, run by the “capomandamento”, who is a member of the “Provincial Commission”. The “capimandamento” of a province vote for a “capoprovincia” who is a member of the “Regional Commission”, the supreme head of Cosa Nostra. The “Regional Commission” is formed by the provincial bosses of Palermo, Trapani, Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Enna and Catania/Eastern Sicily; it decides the most important strategies of the organization as a whole. The boss of bosses or “capo dei capi” is always the boss of Palermo province, which is historically the most powerful.
In Sicily there are about 160 “families” with approximately 6.000 made members and 60.000 associates, almost half of them are located in the province of Palermo. Before being accepted as made members, or “uomini d’onore”, the associates are observed for years and introduced into a “family” only when considered valid; to become a made member the neophyte has to do a particular ritual. The rituals and the ceremony of initiation of Cosa Nostra are described in the police reports of middle and ending of 1800s after the unification of Italy, proofing the continuity and longevity of the organization.