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Italian mafia family structure tree

A capodecina (literally 'head of ten',[1] also called caporegime in the American Mafia) is the head of a decina, a branch within a Sicilian Mafia family. In the larger families, a capodecina is selected by the head of the family and coordinates units of about ten people.[2]

Mafia members are organized under the supervision of a capodecina who reports to the capomandamento, the head of the Mafia family or cosca. The term derives from dieci (ten), suggesting that each would be in charge of ten men.[3] The term was mentioned as early as the 1880s in Sicily to describe the organisation of the Fratellanza, a Mafia-type organisation in Agrigento, in the south of Sicily.[4]

The Mafioso Melchiorre Allegra spoke of a "capo della decina" in his 1937 testimony. He said a family split into groups of ten men each when it became unmanageably large.[4][5]


  1. ^ Schneider, Reversible Destiny, p. 83
  2. ^ Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 41
  3. ^ Gambetta, The Sicilian Mafia, p. 111
  4. ^ a b Gambetta, The Sicilian Mafia, p. 294
  5. ^ Twentyfive pages of Allegra’s testimony were published in 1962 in the newspaper L'Ora by Mauro De Mauro. See: Testimony of Melchiorre Allegra Archived 2012-03-20 at the Wayback Machine, ExLEGI website
  • Gambetta, Diego (1993).The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection, London: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-80742-1
  • Paoli, Letizia (2003). Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style, New York: Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515724-9 (Review)
  • Schneider, Jane T. & Peter T. Schneider (2003). Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo, Berkeley: University of California Press ISBN 0-520-23609-2