Top 10 Basic Rules That Keep Mafia In Order

Tags: #Mafia ,   #omerta ,   #CosaNostra ,   #Crime ,   #Gangster

Alex O'Brien

Alex O'Brien

Last updated:  2023-05-16 06:00:07

We all have heard about the notorious Sicilian Mafia and the Italian-American Mafia that originated from them. Although they keep a low profile, if we compared them with gangsters in the XX century, they still exist. You could think that they are some bunch of ruthless criminals with no moral ground or no rules at all, but you might be surprised. Hence, while they disobey the law, the Mafia has its own strict rules and codes of conduct, and all members must follow them, no questions asked.

Moreover, their name Cosa Nostra means "Our Thing," so these are their rules and codes to follow in the most dangerous criminal organization in the world. You'll get the impression that they are exceptionally organized among each other, as it's obligatory to provide peace and cooperation between the families (Cosa Nostra consists of mafia families). So, let's take a look at the top ten mafia rules.

10. The Commission

Meeting room
The structure and order among Cosa Nostra has been established by the Commission (Photo: Tama66/

First, let's start with the Commission as the organization in Mafia began with it. The Commission was established in 1931 by Charles "Lucky" Luciano to stop the war among the Families. It consisted of the "board of directors" or the bosses of five New York's families, Chicago Outfit, and the Buffalo family.

All Mafia-related businesses and actions had to be approved by the Commission who oversees all activities. This way, they stopped wars between them and brought some order amongst disorganized gangs. However, the deportation of Lucky Luciano back to Italy disrupted the order for a short time. Hence, there were some feuds, but the Commission maintained its leading function.  

9. Cosa Nostra Hierarchy

A board with drawn hierarchy
Hierarchy in the Mafia is essential (Photo: geralt/

Firstly, the organization consists of families, represented by group members, usually not blood-related, who have their territory. The Cosa Nostra consists of several families, yet all of them are under the reign of the boss of bosses called "capo di tutti capi."

Cosa Nostra has strict rules regarding hierarchy within the families, ensuring there are no feuds among themselves. So the family is run by the boss - capofamiglia or rappresentante. He has his underboss - capo bastone or sotto capo, who is second in command. Hence, the underboss supervises its advisers – consigliere who are in charge of his soldiers called soldati, operai, or picciotti. Moreover, at the organization's bottom are associated or foot soldiers who actually do the work, so they are enforcers, assassins, bodyguards, moneymakers, and everything else.

8. Membership

Italian flag with a map of Italy
To turn into a full member of the Mafia, you must have Italian ancestors (Photo: jorono/

A future member must fulfill a series of tasks before he's welcomed to the family. First of all, he must have Italian ancestors. In the beginning, only those whose parents have Sicilian ancestors were accepted. Later that rule has changed to Italian parents, so now, a future member has to have a father with Italian roots.

However, the prospect has to pass a series of tests such as loyalty, obedience, courage, discretion, brutality, nobility, dignity, bravery, intelligence, and many more. Moreover, the ultimate test is murder. After he's accepted as a full member, the only way out is death.

7. Initiation Ceremony

A hand with a bloody small finger
Initiation ritual is vital in becoming a Mafia member (Photo: a88kay/

Initiation ritual was created in Sicily in early 1890, as this was the way for Mafia bosses to protect them. Hence, the new member needs to cut his hand, drip some blood on the saint's picture, and lit the image. Thus, over the burning saint, he pledges his loyalty to the Mafia.

During the ritual, all the main Mafia associates are present, and the new member is accepted. This means that he will be responsible for his brothers and shield them. Hence, he will put the organization above his own family to be protected and cared for in return.

6. Introductions

Safety deposit box
Mafiosi can be introduced only by a third party (Photo: kalhh/

Introductions keep the organization safe from imposters. One mafia member can't approach another member and introduce himself. Moreover, he must find a third member whom both know to make the connection. This way, the third person vouches that they are loyal members and not some imposters, for example, federal agents.

Therefore, we can see that the Cosa Nostra are quite careful regarding their members' safety and who they accept among them. All these strict rules of conduct ensure that everything stays in the family as they call themself.

5. Rules Or Commandments Regarding The Wives

Five women in wedding dresses holding guns
Respecting the wives is one of the Ten Commandments of the Mafia (Photo: inkim3330/

The Cosa Nostra has ten strict rules that every member must obey. We have separated them into three categories, first concerning wives in some matters. Number two on the list is "Never look at friends' wives." This one is obvious and could be applied to everyone outside the Mafia, as the world would be much more honorable. However, if you are Cosa Nostra's member, the injured party or your friend can retaliate as he wishes. So messing with another man's wife is a big NO-NO!

Number seven is "Respect wives" – this one could also be much appreciated among all! Number five, "Always be available for the Cosa Nostra, even if your wife is giving birth,"- is a bit cruel and contradictory to number five.

4. Rules Or Commandments Regarding Police

Male and female police officers
Ten Commandments of Mafia forbid you to associate with the police members (Photo: Utility_Inc/

The second set of rules apply to the connection with the police. So, number three is, "Never be seen with cops." This one goes perfectly with the omerta, as no Cosa Nostra's member wishes to be taken as a snitch. Of course, they can be seen with a cop if they have proof that he is corrupted.

Number ten is even stricter than number three, as it genuinely describes the attitude towards the police. "No Cosa Nostra may have relatives in the police, two-timing relatives, or family that doesn't hold to moral values." This one is difficult to follow, as you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. We are not sure how this rule was followed to the letter?

3. Rules or Commandments Regarding Behavior

People hanging out in a bar
According to the Ten Commandments of Mafia, there is no hanging out in pubs (Photo: Free-Photos /

Finally, the third set of rules is regarding, let's say, good manners. This one almost sounds noble, so don't be rude or impolite as "A third party must always introduce a newcomer to one of our friends." Number four, "Don't go to pubs and clubs" – this one is hard to believe that they obey. However, rule number four has few versions, so one is about respecting the boss or superior, as the other one is that fights among members are forbidden.

Rule number six is also a lesson regarding respect and good manners. "Appointments must absolutely be respected" sounds logical, as it's disrespectful for the other parties if you are late, and that's considered a sign of weakness. Number eight says, "When asked for information from the boss, tell the truth" – trust is everything. Rule number nine, "Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to another member of La Cosa Nostra or to his family." This rule sounds like common sense, as this is disrespecting, so it would surely bring disorder in the organization. 

2. Retaliation

Three gangsters with guns
A vendetta is a severe thing in Mafia circles (Photo: Kassel95/

A feud or a retaliation called vendetta is a long-term fight between families. Sometimes crime families can't easily overcome issues, so they must retaliate. Yet if the vendetta is towards the other families, it can quickly turn into a war, like in mafia-inspired movies. However, the Commission approves some retaliation, and they usually are done without starting a conflict.

There is one more retaliation towards the pentiti, and this one's punishment is death. The penetiti is a former Mafia member who cooperates with the public prosecutor to get the reduced sentence by testifying against his former family members. Although the snitch goes under witness protection, the organization puts extreme effort to track him down and kill him.

1. Omertà

Violating the Omerta code of silence is punishable by death

Code of silence or code of honor is one of the highest regulations among Cosa Nostra's members. The legendary Omertà has found its place among many criminal organizations. This code obliges all members not to cooperate with the authorities, as nobody likes the snitches and rats. The code is so strict that one who faces the charges can't even defend himself, implying that someone else has done the crime such as bank robbery

Hence, he needs to accept his punishment and even serve time if needed. Moreover, the silence code has deep roots in Sicily and goes back to the 16th century. However, the Sicilian Mafia has elevated them by adding a death punishment for those who break it. 

To conclude our top ten list, there is no running around doing as you please and taking no responsibilities for your actions, not in the Mafia. Is there a better way to get the bunch of criminals in order than make them obey the strict rules?

Have you ever heard about some of these rules? What is your opinion about them? Please write below, in the comment section, as we would like to listen to your opinion.  

Cover photo: RussPhotographer/



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frankie fondugule Says:

I think if the cosa Nostra didn't have ,and( severe ones at that )rules ,we wouldn't have be able to have the things we do.Be a proud sicilian and always remember where you came from!!!!

February 08 at 11:17:00 PM

KD Jones Says:

I knew about most of these rules, but not in so many details. I could never be a part of it, no matter the money involved.

June 06 at 02:29:59 PM

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