La Mano Nera
La Mano Nera, Italian for "Black Hand", was a type of extortion racket. It was a method of extortion, not a criminal organization as such.
It refers to the practice established by a very small portion of Italian immigrants in the United States starting in the 1880s.
Usually, they preyed on other Italian immigrants.
Typical Black Hand tactics involved sending a letter to a victim threatening bodily harm, kidnapping, arson, or murder.
The letter demanded a specified amount of money to be delivered to a specific place. It was decorated with threatening
symbols like a smoking gun or hangman's noose and signed with a hand imprinted in black ink; hence the Italian name
'La Mano Nera' (The Black Hand) which was readily adopted by the American press as "The Black Hand Society".
The tenor Enrico Caruso received a Black Hand letter, on which a black hand and dagger were drawn, demanding $2,000.
Although Caruso decided to pay, he again received a demand for $15,000. Realizing the extortionists would continue to
demand money, he reported the incident to the police who, arranging for Caruso to drop off the money at a prearranged
spot, arrested two Italian-American businessmen who retrieved the money.
The Black Hand practice in the United States disappeared in the mid 1920s after a wave of negative public opinion led
organized crime figures to seek more subtle methods of extortion.
LANZARA-LANZARO FAMILY HISTORY