Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bruscino Bait: Mafia Edition

At TNR Bradford Plumer explains why the mafia never gained a foothold in Washington, DC. Basically his answer comes down to ethnicity: Washington never had the population of Italian-Americans that other cities had and so there was no critical mass for a mafia presence in Washington.

Read the piece to see his answer. I'm a bit surprised that he does not consider one important factor: The mafia has always been only somewhat powerful, though that;s small solace to its victims. Nonetheless, even the Corleaones knew that there was only so far that they could push. You could own a single Senator in Nevada -- and then only under fairly extreme circumstances -- but almost certainly not in Washington, where the power dynamic changes considerably. It is not a particularly effective marshaling of resources to try to play a power game in Washington when New York and Providence and Philly and Boston are so much more wide-open to you.


Tom said...

I'm not really an expert on the Mafia, or Washington DC for that matter, but it seems to me that organized crime transcends ethnicity. If I were to guess why DC has been organized crime free, it would be because there just is not as much money on the street as there is in other major cities. The reason is because DC is a political capital with lots of money caught up in the government and many of the people there to work with the government, whereas the other cities are financial and trade centers, with lots of jobs and lots of low-level money to control and extort (docks, trash, construction, prostitution, gambling, drugs, etc.).

dcat said...

Tom --
For example there are Irish and Russian mobs. Certainly in Boston the Irish power nexus in Southie is the one ordinary people worry about.
I maintain that it would be foolhardy for any organized crime group to get themselves too close to the power structure in DC in any case. Washington just strikes me as the highest hanging fruit.