Difference Between Gang and Mafia

Gang vs Mafia

Gang, mafia, Mob, etc. are words that are often used in connection with organized crimes. Organized crime is different from crimes that are committed on the spur of the moment or resulted from individual effort. This kind of criminal activity is a result of a group of criminals coming together and performing illegal activities for monetary benefit of the organization or syndicate so formed. There are many similarities in the types of crimes committed by gangs and mafia. However, there are structural differences and also differences in nature and functioning of gangs and mafia that will be highlighted in this article.


Mafia is a term that refers to a criminal organization that originated in Sicily, Italy in the 19th century. The firsts of the Mafia groups or gangs were extended families that engaged in illegal activities and extorted money in lieu of protection they provided to common people. Members of this organized crime syndicate took pride in calling themselves men of honor and each group had control of some territory where it operated. People and law enforcing authorities referred to such clans or families as Mafia. With the passage of time, the term mafia has become generic in nature and is today applied to all groups or gangs that engage in illegal activities and have a particular modus operandi and close knit structure involving family members. Mafia in US was a result of immigration of families from Sicily in Italy to the country.

Though extortion was the main activity of the Mafiosi in earlier times, such crime syndicates are today involved with many different illegal activities such as prostitution, smuggling, and drug trafficking to name a few. The thing to remember in the case of Mafia is that the syndicate has a strong control exercised by a patriarch, and it has strong connections with officials in positions of authority. This helps the members of the group to stay clear of law enforcement authorities and thus avoid jail sentences.


Gang is a term that is applied to any association of criminals with a clear cut hierarchy and control that engages in criminal activities for monetary profit. Gangs normally operate claiming control over territories and often having fierce battles with other gangs over this control. Gangs are seen more often in big cities and other urban areas than in the countryside. The Sicilian Mafia is perhaps the best example of a gang. There are thousands of gangs operating in the country indulging, in diverse illegal activities. Gangs are often also known as mobs.

Gangs vs Mafia

• Gangs are organizations with members engaging in illegal activities while Mafia is a type of gang.

• Thus, gang is a term that is used in a generic sense while Sicilian mafia or simply Mafia is a typical example of a gang.

• Mafia is a crime syndicate that is comprised of members mostly belonging to an extended family with a clear cut hierarchy and control.

• Mafia originates in Sicily, Italy but today it has become a generic word that is applied to similar organized criminal organizations operating throughout the country.

• Gangs are less organized than Mafia.

• Mafia is more powerful than gangs with connections with officials in power.

• Mafia has a family structure that is lacking in gangs.

• Gangs often engage in petty crimes while mafia is known to indulge in drug trafficking and extortion.