CLIO 7 (1) - page 58

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Second Circuit. The reason why the Apalachin affair
was such a large turning point was that it confirmed
the existence of the Mafia. The FBI, and its director,
J Edgar Hoover, could no longer ignore the criminal
underworld whereas before he had refused to ac-
knowledge that there was an organized crime syn-
dicate. This marked the point at which the existence
of the American Mafia could no longer be denied,
and this lead to the authorities adopting many new
tactics to hunt them down.
This use of many new tactics became a
turning point itself, playing a role in the decline of
the American mafia. The advancement of tech-
nology resulted in the introduction of wiretapping
and therefore the rise of undercover work. Before,
during the early 60s, it was common for mobsters
to be arrested and then having to be released by
the authorities due to insufficient evidence. How-
ever, in 1968, Congress passed a law allowing the
use of wiretap evidence in courts, changing this
completely as the government could now get solid
evidence to put Mafia members away for years.
The indictment of 11 mafia leaders in February 1985
revealed the effect of wiretapping and undercover
work as these 11 men included the heads of New
York’s five dominant crime families. The operation
included planting bugs in strategic places, such as
the dashboard inside the Jaguar of Anthony Coral-
lo, the Lucchese family chief. In 1986, eight of the
eleven defendants stood trial and were convicted.
Wiretapping and undercover work became very
popular from the 1960s onwards as they were very
efficient and successful ways of obtaining substan-
tial evidence to convict even the most prestigious
members of the Mafia family.
The aforementioned February 1985 case
could not have been carried out if it was not for the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
Act (The RICO act), another important factor for
the decline of the Mafia. It was signed into law by
Nixon on October 15th 1970 and became a vital tool
for the government to prosecute mobsters with.
The main part of the RICO act stated that leaders
of a crime organization could now be tried for the
crime which they ordered others to do or partly as-
sisted them in doing. Before this, many mobsters,
especially Mafia leaders could not be punished for
instructing someone else to commit a crime, like
murder, as they were not the individual carrying out
the act. They used this fault in the law to remain
one step ahead of the FBI and the police, but after
1970 any connection to any crime they’d coordi-
nated could put them in jail. This made the crime
organisers a lot more insecure and vulnerable to the
outside world and the government.
Many argue that, despite all these key events,
which did increase the rate of the Mafia’s decline,
there was a more gradual turning point over time.
This was the changing world. The second half of the
20th Century faced massive change through many
platforms: politics, culture and attitudes towards
race and diversity. It was these changes and so-
cial advances that left the mafia behind. From the
1920s to 1950s, the Mafia relied completely on the
injustice of society. They made their fortunes from
corruption in the government and businesses and
their workforce was predominantly immigrants
whose only way to get work was to involve them-
selves in the Mafia, due to the harsh discrimination
of that time. However, many movements, such as
the civil rights movements, encouraged people to
be more accepting of all ethnicities,
Image of J. Edgar Hoover, the founder and director
of the FBI from 1935-1972.
FBI chart of American Mafia bosses across the
country in 1963.
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