According to the Italian Justice Department, by 1981 the NCO had become the strongest Camorra clan and one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the nation, providing a living for at least 200,000 people in the Neapolitan area alone. It was distinctly hostile to the Sicilian Mafia, but had an alliance with numerous Calabrian 'Ndrangheta clans, in addition to the Nuova Grande Camorra Pugliese, which was the precursor to the Sacra Corona Unita in Apulia.
It was eventually supplanted by the Nuova Famiglia, a confederation of clans consisting of Michele Zaza (a Camorra boss with strong ties with Cosa Nostra), the Gionta clan (from Torre Annunziata), the Nuvoletta clan from Marano, Antonio Bardellino from San Cipriano d'Aversa and Casal di Principe, the Alfieri clan of Saviano led by Carmine Alfieri, the Galasso clan of Poggiomarino (led by Pasquale Galasso), the Giuliano clan from Naples' quarter Forcella (led by Luigi Giuliano and the Vollaro clan from Portici (led by Luigi Vollaro).
It was considered extinct in the late 1980s, when many of its bosses and members were killed or imprisoned. Cutolo's Camorra is described as the "mass Camorra" of unemployed youth specializing in protection rackets, while Carmine Alfieri's Camorra was seen as the "political Camorra" because of its ability to obtain public sector contracts through political contacts, and Lorenzo Nuvoletta's as the "business Camorra" reinvesting drug money into construction following the 1980 earthquake.
The founder of this organization, Raffaele Cutolo, also known as "'o Professore" (The Professor), was born on December 20, 1941, in Ottaviano, a village in the hinterland of Naples. At the age of 18, on February 24, 1963, he committed his first homicide and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, reduced to 24 years after appeal. He was sent to Poggioreale, Naples’ prison. Entering the prison world on a murder conviction made Cutolo a "tough guy".
In prison Cutolo learned the rules of the criminal world: he became a man of honour, paid respect to more powerful inmates, and started gathering personal prestige because of his striking personality. He never lost sight of his ambition and his desire to become one of the biggest bosses of the Neapolitan underworld.