Lessons we can learn from the Mafia

Satan is intelligent and relentless. If I don’t grasp this completely, I’m toast.

When I say “mafia” I mean any kind of organized crime. Today, rather than the Sicilian mob, the Mexican cartels steal the headlines.

In 2017, the drug war in Mexico racked up 31,174 homicides. This made the country the second most violent after Syria.  Cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, and marijuana… these products create Mexican drug lord billionaires. A kilo of coke bought for $2,000 in Colombia can be parlayed into $100,000 on the streets of NYC. According to the US DOJ, Colombian and Mexican cartels reap up to $39 billion annually from narcotic sales in the US alone.  Plus, all this cash is tax free.

The ice cream man

This kind of big business emerges from the efforts of kingpins such as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. “Chapo always talks about the drug business, wherever he is,” a witness once told a jury. The ingenuity and diversification of the drug trade is legendary. They’re as high tech and organized as any multinational corporation.

I remember my brother-in-law once met the owner of a successful ice cream chain here in Buenos Aires. All the guy could talk about was ice cream all the time. Flavors, ingredients, colors, milk… you name it. He was obsessed with ice cream, and you can see his brand everywhere.

What do I care about?

You’re probably starting to get the picture. Do I carry the same passion to build God’s Kingdom? Drug lords do it out of greed or ambition. Are these things greater than the love of Christ poured into my soul?

Their commandments – like ours?

La eMe is a Mexican mafia known for their brutality. They operate mostly from within US prisons. Check out their rules of conduct:

  1. A member may not be an informant, or rat.
  2. A member may not be a coward.
  3. A member may not raise a hand against another member without approval.
  4. A member must not show disrespect for any member’s family, including sex with another member’s wife, or girlfriend.
  5. A member must not steal from another member.
  6. A member may not be homosexual.
  7. A member must not politic against another member or cause dissension within the organization.
  8. Membership is for life.
  9. It’s mandatory to assault/kill all dropouts.
  10. La eMe comes first. Even before your own family.
  11. A member must not interfere with another member’s business activities.

There are echos of Judeo-Christian commandments throughout the list. Here are the Sicilian Mafias’ Ten Commandments:

  1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
  2. Never look at the wives of friends.
  3. Never be seen with cops.
  4. Don’t go to pubs and clubs.
  5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty – even if your wife is about to give birth.
  6. Appointments must absolutely be respected. (probably refers to formal rank and authority.)
  7. Wives must be treated with respect.
  8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
  9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
  10. People who can’t be part of Cosa Nostra (mafia): anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn’t hold to moral values.


Think about how aggressive these groups are, not only in violence, but in terms of spreading their business. They mull about it night and day. Everything is aimed at growth. Consider the sexual offender. How many hours per day does he spend thinking about and planning to trap victims?

Jerry Sandusky founded The Second Mile charity for at-risk kids. The NGO had three offices in Pennsylvania and millions of dollars in revenue. Major corporations contributed to the effort, such as Bank of America, BNY Mellon, the Hershey Company, Merck, State Farm, Sheetz, U.S. Steel Corp., PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, local Walmarts and newspapers. How much effort did it take to build such an institution? What was the founder’s motive?

In 2011, Sandusky was arrested and charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period from 1994 to 2009.

That’s what we’re up against. And this is nothing compared to the focus, energy, and force that larger entities and states implement to achieve their goals. And we know the tentacles of the beast contaminate even our own beloved churches.

Who can stand against such odds?

Against such a tremendous evil force, it would take a god to defeat it. Or a body…

“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ 

Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 

So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-33)

Why did Jesus use such harsh words? Because he knew how far the enemy goes to reach its ends. Recall the Mexican Mafia commandment:

“La eMe comes first. Even before your own family.”

In the end, love conquers hate, since love endures and gives more. Christ knew the price he would have to pay.  Such an act of love has the power to wash away the sins of billions. From the Resurrection to Pentecost to the countless modern day martyrs, Jesus’ self-sacrifice mobilizes the Body of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. If we meditate upon these truths we just might receive the vision and determination to confront such deadly forces.

What am I doing?

God’s will is unstoppable. The victory is assured. Still, the Lord asks us to play a part in his plan.

So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Lucas 17:10)

Now I’m not saying we should go around beating people over the head with a Bible all day. But what are my priorities and motivations? How far am I willing to go? If the enemy can move men to such proportions to promote death, suffering, and destruction – how far am I willing to go to promote eternal life?

If you’re in a position to do so, should you face down drug lords and pedophile rings? If the Lord calls you to do so, yes, even at the risk of personal harm.

And if by the smallest chance you’re a mafia member or criminal that happens to be reading, your soul depends on one thing only: Repent. For The Day Of The Lord Is At Hand. If you ask, God will forgive you. Then go change your ways. You can enter into paradise with Christ as he paid the price for your soul with his own blood.

Sadly, most of us buckle under the weight of much smaller challenges. I might think my minor dishonesty does no harm, but I’d be wrong. Every transgression feeds the beast that sticks a needle in the arm of an overdosing youth. I’m as much to blame as the next sinner.

Choose courage

Maybe it’s time to stop being an accomplice to corruption. If God won’t be with me when I decide to stand up for truth and justice, then when will he?

If I really think about the magnitude of the threat, I admit I become afraid. Still, only in presence of fear can we see the full manifestation of courage.

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Cocaine Incorporated http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/magazine/how-a-mexican-drug-cartel-makes-its-billions.html


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