Patriarca crime family soldier Louis R. Failla is charged with the attempted bribery of the East Hartford police chief.
Nicholas A. DeLucia Jr., owner of several Pittsburgh massage parlors for the LaRocca crime family, is convicted of tax evasion.
January - Seven Rochester mobsters, including Frank D. Frassetto, are convicted in a federal court of racketeering crimes including several mob-related bombings.
January 6 – Piersanti Mattarella, the president of the region of Sicily, and important Christian Democracy reformer, is murdered in Palermo. Mattarela wanted to clean up the government’s public contracts racket that benefitted Cosa Nostra.
March 7 - Joseph Coppolino is stabbed to death and then decapitated, his headless corpse left on the street to be discovered by authorities. Coppolino was murdered by the DeMeo Crew, who suspected him of providing information about their marijuana trafficking operation to narcotics agents.
March 21 - Angelo Bruno, long time head of the Philadelphia crime family, is murdered. Bruno's death, reportedly ordered by rival and Bruno family consigliere Anthony "Tony Bananas" Caponigro, sets off a gang war among the Philadelphia underworld resulting in 15 gangland slayings of former Bruno crime family members and associates fought among themselves until former Underboss Philip Testa assumes leadership of the Philadelphia Mob, with Peter Casella taking Testa's position.
March 21 - Chester Mayor John Nacrelli is charged with accepting bribes from Delaware County gambling racketeer Frank Miller and sentenced to six years imprisonment.
March 27 - Italian banker and mafia associate Michele Sindona is sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in the United States on 65 counts including fraud, perjury, creating false bank statements and missappropriating bank funds.
April 17 - Philadelphia crime family consigliere Antonio Caponigro, along with his chauffuer and cousin Alfred Salerno, are killed for plotting Angelo Bruno's assassination. They had apparently been deceived into believing they had Commission approval by Genovese family boss Frank "Funzi" Tieri because Tieri wanted Caponigro's lucrative New Jersey bookmaking operations.
May 5 – Captain Emanuele Basile of the Carabinieri is killed in front of his wife and child in Monreale. Basile had been conducting important investigations into heroin trafficking (initiated by Boris Giuliano, who had been killed on July 21, 1979) and murder involving the Corleonesi together with investigative judge Paolo Borsellino.
May 9 – Palermo chief prosecutor Gaetano Costa signs 55 arrest warrants against the heroin trafficking syndicate of the Mafia families Spatola-Gambino-Inzerillo. Judge Giovanni Falcone is put in charge of the investigation.
May 12 - Patrick Penny is shot to death by Roy DeMeo while sitting in the driver's seat of his parked car in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Penny was killed for his role as key witness in the murder trial of DeMeo's superior in the Gambino Family, Anthony Gaggi.
June - While on a day release from prison, Sicilian mafioso Tommaso Buscetta first stays with Stefano Bontade before fleeing to Brazil to escape the war going on within the Sicilian mafia.
July 11 - Gabriel Mannarino, Capo of the LaRocca crime family, dies of natural causes. Although John Bazzano Jr. is said to have succeeded him, his former territory falls to syndicate mobster Thomas A. Ciancutti.
August 6 - Palermo chief prosecutor Gaetano Costa is killed on the orders of Salvatore Inzerillo, without the permission of the Sicilian Mafia Commission to show Totò Riina and the Corleonesi that he can also disregard the rules.
August 25 – Two heroin refining labs are discovered on Sicily. The first one in Trabia and later that day a bigger lab in Carini, that could produce 50 kilograms a week. Gerlando Alberti of the Porta Nuova Mafia family is arrested with three Corsican chemist, among them André Bousquet an old hand from the French Connection days.
September 15 – A third heroin lab is discovered in the Via Villagrazia in Palermo after a fire.
September 19 - John "Johnny Keys" Simone, Capo for the Philadelphia crime family, is murdered in New York. A member of the Antonio Caponigro-faction, Simone was supposedly involved in Bruno's assassination despite being a cousin to Angelo Bruno.
September 20 - Frank Amato, son-in-law of Gambino boss Paul Castellano, is shot to death by Roy DeMeo on Castellano's orders. Amato's body is then dismembered and dumped into the ocean.
October 30 - Philadelphia Capo Frank Sindone, overseeing loan shark operations under Angelo Bruno and Philip Testa, is killed in South Philadelphia.
December 2 – First arrest of Francesco Marino Mannoia, the chemist of Mafia boss Stefano Bontade. In the two years that he had been active he refined some 600-700 kilograms of heroin.
December John McCullough, president of the Roofer's Union Local 30 and an associate of Angelo Bruno, is murdered by a man posing as a florist. A Williamsport food importing company owned and operated by Lawrence Bufalino, a relative of Russell Bufalino, is destroyed in a fire.