during 13th century in Sicily, as a hierarchically structured secret society of individuals using terrorist methods including blackmail, violence and murder, originally in protection of lands, orchards and marketing but subsequently penetrating the construction and entertainment industries and the illegal drug market. As a consequence of emigration, a network of such societies has been built up in a number of countries, notably the United States and South America, and is considered to be intimately linked to the various forms of internationally organized crime. Through investment may have extended its connections to legitimate business. Also known, especially in the USA, as Cosa Nostra.
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