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A caporegime or capodecina, usually shortened to just a capo is a term used in the Mafia for a high ranking made member of a crime family who heads a "crew" of soldiers and has major social status and influence in the organization. Caporegime is an Italian word, which was originally used to signify the head of a family in Sicily, but has now come to mean a ranking member, similar to captain or sergeant. In general, the term indicates the head of a branch of an organized crime syndicate who commands a crew of soldiers and reports directly to a boss or an underboss.


Mafia, particularly the Italian-American mafia, is essentially and technically divided into almost distinct and partially independent "crews" headed by a "capo" or leader of the individuals, and those in the crew report to the capo and collect money for the capo, and the capo gives the share of the profit to the people in the higher up like the underboss and/or the boss to keep the mafia organization in regular intervals. The profit sharing of the crews to the boss is used for protection by the boss for the crew if the crew needs help and mutual interest. Accurate estimates of the income of an average capo vary greatly and are difficult to quantify. It's always in a state of flux, depending on the success and size of his crew depending on the time.

The "crews" are partially independent from each other and everyone in the crew only usually does things within the "crew" and the money making are also within the crew. Asking of how many crews and how many individuals are in the family by the people inside the mafia are generally prohibited because the secrecy of the mafia and the suspicion that the individual might be an informant.

Sometimes a crew might specialize in certain areas like gambling, while other crews might be more involved in stealing and selling vehicles and its parts. A crew might also operate in certain geographical areas.

The number of caporegimes/crews depends on the size of a family. The Gambino family has had more than 20 capos whereas the St. Louis crime family has had just a small number of capos.


In the Mafia, when a boss makes a decision, he passes instructions down through the chain of command, rather than issue orders directly to the soldiers who carry it out. This ranking system protects the higher levels of the organization from incrimination if a lower level member should be captured by law enforcement. A caporegime acts as an intermediary between the soldiers and the boss. In technical terms, a caporegime operates his own small family within the framework of a larger family.

Each Capo is in charge of a mini-gang or a crew of soldiers and associates that can range greatly in size. These men may or may not be based in close proximity. For example, Bonanno crime family capo Joe Notaro had crew members spread throughout New York'smarker five boroughs and even had crew members operating in New Jerseymarker.

Capos have varying degrees of power. Some are relatives or close friends of the boss, which gives them more influence. A capo with an active crew that generates a lot of profits is always respected.

For example, Gambino crime family soldier Roy DeMeo was greatly respected and had a tremendous amount of goodwill among his peers due to his great moneymaking abilities. The Gambino family boss, John Gotti, also was widely respected and tolerated due to the amount of profits his crew generated for the family. Despite the various blunders and mistakes committed by them, they successfully avoided getting killed by their superiors and were tolerated due to this fact.

On the other hand, capo Joe Sferra of the DeCavalcante crime family was demoted to soldier and removed from his lucrative union post in June of 1965 after a series of blunders. In 1984, a more severe loss of power occurred to Salvatore "Salvie" Testa, a once rising Scarfo family capo. He ended up getting murdered by Nicky Scarfo due to the suspicions raised about his loyalty.

A Caporegime may also have certain areas he protects with his crew or certain racket such as labor racketeering, numbers running, and other forms of organized crime. The Capo's crew members may each have their own criminal activity going on with their legitimate business ventures, while the capo may have his own business or a legitimate job in order to file tax returns.

Use in popular fiction

In The Godfather, the characters Sal Tessio (played by Abe Vigoda) and Pete Clemenza (played by Richard S. Castellano) are capos in the Corleone Family who answer to Vito Corleone (and later Michael Corleone).

In Mean Streets the main character's uncle is a caporegime of one of New York's Five Families.

In Goodfellas, Paul Cicero (played by Paul Sorvino) was the capo of the crew that Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) was associated with. Paul Vario, on whom Cicero is based, was part of a very profitable crew (see The Vario Crew) that was part of the Lucchese family.

In the video games Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories, Toni Cipriani is the capo of the Leone family in Liberty City whose boss is Salvatore Leone. Salvatore Leone is killed in Grand Theft Auto III by Claude (a man whom Salvatore betrayed), and it is believed that Toni became the underboss of the Leone family.

In the video game Grand Theft Auto IV, Ray Boccino acts as the capo for the Pegorino Family, an organized crime family based in the in-game equivalent of New Jersey.

In the HBO television series The Sopranos, the term "capo" or "captain" is used to describe crew leaders in the crime family. Capos have included Tony Soprano (before his elevation to acting boss), Junior Soprano (before his own elevation to boss before Tony), Paulie Gualtieri, Christopher Moltisanti, Richie Aprile, Gigi Cestone, Ralph Cifaretto, Vito Spatafore, Raymond Curto, Carlo Gervasi, Jimmy Altieri, Larry Barese, Feech La Manna, Murf Lupo, and Bobby "Baccala" Baccalieri, who replaced the senile Lupo.

In the video game Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, the faction officers of the Russian Mafia are called "capos." They wear a black overcoat and ski cap, and are typically armed with shotguns.

The Gambino crime family

Those given new caporegime status, or those capos given expanded responsibilities, include:
  • Nicholas Corozzo of Brooklynmarker, caporegime of Joseph Corrao's operations.
  • Gregory DiPalma, given caporegime status of Joseph Zingaro's operations.
  • Peter Gotti, elevated to capo to replace his brother Gene.
  • Peter Lino, elevated to capo to supervise Floridamarker operations.
  • Michael Mandaglia of Kenilworth, elevated to capo to replace Joseph Paterno.
  • Thomas Gambino of New York, caporegime who replaced Pasquale Conti as Gambino/Gotti liaison to the Sicilian Mafia.

Other usage

  • Guards and other assistants recruited from among the prisoners of Nazi Concentration camps were also referred to as a Kapo or Capo.
  • Rapper Jim Jones frequently refers himself as "Dipset's resident 'Capo-Status'"

See also


  • Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2

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