In 1984, the mafioso informant Tommaso
uscetta explained to prosecutors the pyramidal commandstructure of a typical clan.
A clan is led by a "boss" (capofamiglia), who is aided by a second-in-command (a sotto capo or "underboss") and one or more advisers (consigliere). Under his commandare crews of about 10 "soldiers", each led by a capodecina (or sometimes caporegime).Other than its members, Cosa Nostra makes extensive use of "associates". These are people who work for or aid a clan (or even multiple clans) but are not treated as true members. These include corruptofficials and prospective mafiosi. An associate is considered nothing more than a tool; "nothing mixedwith nil."The most powerful boss is often referred to in the media as the capo di tutti capi ("boss of all bosses"),who allegedly commands all the clans of Cosa Nostra. Calogero Vizzini, Salvatore Riina, and
ernardo Provenzano were especially influential bosses who have each been described by the mediaand law enforcement as being the "boss of bosses" of their times. However, such a position does notformally exist, according to Mafia turncoats such as
Traditionally, only Sicilian men can become mafiosi, though in recent times there have been reports of women assuming the responsibilities of imprisoned mafioso relatives.
Membership and rank in the Mafia are not hereditary. Most new bosses are not related to their predecessor. The Commission forbids relatives from holding positions in inter-clan bodies at the sametime.
A mafioso's legitimate occupation, if he has any, generally does not affect his prestige within Cosa Nostra.
Historically, most mafiosi were employed in menial jobs, and many bosses did not work atall,
but in recent times professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been found among them.
A prospective mafioso is carefully tested for obedience, discretion and ruthlessness. He is almostalways required to commit murder as his ultimate trial.
For many years, the power apparatuses of the individual clans were the sole ruling bodies within theassociation, and they have remained the real centers of power even after superordinate bodies werecreated in Cosa Nostra beginning in the late 1950s (the Sicilian Mafia Commission also known asCommissione or Cupola).
The Commission is a body of leading Cosa Nostra members who decide on important questionsconcerning the actions of, and settling disputes within the organization. It is composed of representatives of a mandamento (a "district" of three geographically contiguous Mafia families) thatare called capo mandamento or rappresentante. The Commission is not a central government of theMafia, but a representative mechanism for consultation of independent families who decide byconsensus. "Contrary to the wide-spread image presented by the media, these superordinate bodies of coordination cannot be compared with the executive boards of major legal firms. Their power isintentionally limited. And it would be entirely wrong to see in the Cosa Nostra a centrally managed,internationally active Mafia holding company," according to criminologist Letizia Paoli.
The jurisdiction extends over a province; each province of Sicily has some kind of a Commission,except Messina, Siracusa and Ragusa.
eyond the provincial level, details are vague. According to
uscetta, a commissione interprovinciale ± interprovincial commission ± was set up in the 1970s,