A Mustache Pete is a member of the Sicilian Mafia
who came to the United States
(particularly New York City
) as an adult in the early 20th century.
Unlike the younger Sicilian-Americans, known as the "Young Turks," the old-guard Mustache Petes had large mustaches and usually committed their first killings in Italy
. Their most prominent members were Joe "the Boss" Masseria
(1886–1931) and Salvatore Maranzano
(1886–1931). Many of them also had connections with the Sicilian Mafia
. The Mustache Petes wanted to maintain Sicilian
criminal traditions in their new country and were more interested in working with and exploiting their fellow Italians
than the public at large. To that end, they opposed their younger members' desire to work with the powerful Jewish
gangs and in drugs.
The younger members wanted to branch out since they realized the numerous other ways in which to make their fortunes, but they were stifled by the Mustache Petes.
This annoyed younger ''caporegime
s'', such as Lucky Luciano
(1897–1962) and Vito Genovese
Luciano and other "Young Turks" in the New York Mafia soon concluded that the Mustache Petes were too set in their ways to see the millions of dollars that working with non-Italian gangsters could bring. During the Castellammarese War
(1930–31), Luciano built a network of younger mafiosi in both the Masseria and Maranzano camps and secretly intended to assassinate
one of the older bosses, then bide their time before killing the other. They eventually decided to kill Masseria and feigned loyalty to Maranzano until they had a chance to eliminate him as well.
Following the death of Maranzano on September 10, 1931, the newer generation of Italian mobsters reorganized the National Crime Syndicate
and founded The Commission
, becoming closer to the modern American Mafia
Journalists marked this day as a purge
of older mafiosi, known as the "Night of the Sicilian Vespers
." Several days later, on September 13, the corpses of two other Maranzano allies, Samuel Monaco and Louis Russo, were retrieved from Newark Bay, showing evidence of torture
. Meanwhile, Joseph Siragusa, leader of the Pittsburgh crime family
, was shot to death in his home. The October 15 disappearance of Joe Ardizonne
, head of the Los Angeles family
, would later be regarded as part of this alleged plan to quickly eliminate the old-world Sicilian bosses.
["Lucky Luciano: Criminal Mastermind," ''Time'']
Dec. 7, 1998
/ref> However, the idea of an organized mass purge, directed by Luciano, has been debunked as a myth.
[''The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia'']
Category:American gangsters of Sicilian descent
Category:Organized crime terminology