1st Edition

Understanding Mafia Networks

By Roberto Musotto Copyright 2023
    144 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Sicilian Mafia is the most famous criminal organisation in the world. While its own code of honour, rustic chivalry and violence methods have been adopted by other illicit groups, very little is known about how the Mafia, Cosa Nostra, is actually organised and embedded in its territory. Who runs the day-to-day operations? What does it take for a Mafioso to raise the ranks and become a boss? How can the organisation protect itself and re-group after arrests?

    This book explores for the first time the structure of this criminal organisation through the lens of spatial and social network analysis and answers these questions. This is done by looking at the relationships of 176 members of the organisation that have been recently involved in building the Cupola, the highest ruling and judicial body in the organisation. Starting from the arrest warrant that uncovered this criminal restructuring, a method and several alternatives are offered, explained and commented on how to analyse and visualise criminal networks.

    The book confirms the assumption that the Sicilian Mafia is a criminal organisation that is deeply rooted in its territory. Mafiosi live, work and interact only in the remit of their own neighbourhood. Bosses are evasive, even to their own affiliates, and mid-level members are in charge of keeping the whole network operational. This book is particularly useful to students, researchers and law enforcement agencies that look at new ways to understand and disrupt the operations and structure of criminal organisations around the world.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: On the Mafia-type structure and origins in the light of social and spatial criminal networks

    Chapter 3 : A meeting of minds in making the Cupola of the Sicilian Mafia: from rustic chivalry to Operazione Perseo

    Chapter 4 : From Evidence to Proof: reassessing the rule of law in consorting crimes through the use of Social Network Analysis as a legal paradigm

    Chapter 5: Untangling the Social Network of the Sicilian Mafia

    Chapter 6: Mapping the Sicilian Mafia: taking care of everyone’s business?


    Roberto Musotto is the Director of Cyber Security for a State Government in Australia. He is a core member of the Security Research Institute at Edith Cowan University, Perth. He is an Italian qualified lawyer, specialised in organised crime. In his career, he has advised multiple international institutions and authored various articles on criminal organisations both online and offline.


    "Dr Roberto Musotto combines his professional interdisciplinary expertise in law and economics with his personal experience of growing up in Sicily to give a very informative and multi-layered insight into one of the most intriguing and yet, feared, crime groupings. This book will complement other disciplinary interpretations of Mafia to add further depth to our understanding of its economic motives and tactics." Professor David S. Wall, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK

    "The most recent literature on Italian mafias has often neglected deep investigations in the functioning of the Sicilian mafia, Cosa Nostra, which is the archetype of mafia-type groups. This book by Roberto Musotto not only brings back Cosa Nostra to the forefront of analysis but it does so by combining a socio-legal analysis with a spatial network analysis. This multi-purpose approach allows the author to reflect on both the evolution and the uniqueness of the structure of the Sicilian mafia within studies of organised crime. This book is also particularly important from a methodological standpoint for studies of organisations through an analysis of networks that is grounded in a specific reality but also allows generalisability." Dr Anna Sergi, Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK

    "An important theme in unpacking the organisation of serious crimes for financial gain is an appreciation of the interaction between the people involved and the tasks they need to perform, and when and where these interactions take place. The commendably rich and innovative analysis in this book by Roberto Musotto brings together an integrated social and spatial network analysis to make sense of the criminal activities of Mafia-connected groups implicated in the distribution of drugs in Sicily, identifying patterns of illicit behaviours and connections across geographical (and social) spaces." Professor Nicholas Lord, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

    "A thought-provoking book designed to capture the amorphous structure of the Sicilian Mafia using network analysis. Working from an actual case, it is shown how a small group of individuals came to control a large area for illicit purposes. Combines fascinating history and current events with an innovative method to organize and visualize ongoing criminal associations for use in court." Professor Jay Albanese, Wilder School of Government & Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University, US