Camorra

A Neapolitan secret society with extortion as its aim, founded originally as a fraternal organization among convicts, c.1820. It first came into prominence as a criminal association under the Bourbons, c.1830. A highly organized body, its membership embraced all ranks of society, and by 1848 it had assumed considerable proportions as a corrupt political organization. It controlled the municipal government of Naples until conditions became so notorious that the Italian government was compelled to make an investigation in 1900. As a result the Honest Government League, which was instrumental in overthrowing the Camorra as a political machine, was formed. The society then reverted to its former status and gained extraordinary power. It extended its field of activity to the United States, particularly to New York City, where the Calabrian Camorra operated widely in conjunction with the Black Hand Society. For the most part its crimes were confined to members of the Italian race who were too terrorized to complain to American authorities, but the notoriety attendant upon several kidnapping and murder cases in New York, 1911-1912, brought about its suppression by the government. No trace of the historic Camorra remains, although the name still exists in Italian prisons where the older criminals exact fees known as camorra from the newcomers.

New Catholic Dictionary

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