The roots of the Mafia lay in Sicily 600 years ago. These times it were known as the "Mafia" and it had nothing to do with organized crime, loansharking, oppression, etc. The Mafia was Italy's first national resistance group against foreign rulers, they were the protectors of the weak and the poor and had a very good reputation within the lower class of society. The illegal history of the Mafia is only a hundred years old, back then Italians started emigrating to the new world because of the miserable economic condition in Europe. The first port you arrive in, travelling oversee is New York, and there developed the first mob of organized Italian criminals in the US.
The first remarkable mobsters in the late 1910s and early 20s were Francesco Ioele, better known as Frankie Yale and Don Giuseppe Balsamo. The black hand gang, as it was called, had just developed from a street gang to a poorly organized crime institution in Brooklyn. Yale was the more important guy, he managed the criminal operations of the black hand gang, while Balsamo cared about the economic part.
He emigrated to the USA in 1895, Don Giuseppe was already an important member of the Mafia in Italy, so he received a significant role in the black hand gang immediately. He was the first who cared about the climate within the Mob and introduced a man called peacekeeper (the first peacekeeper was James Crissali), later on, a peacekeeper was installed in every part of the USA, the Mafia had its influence in. The peacekeeper stepped in when rivalry arose between two mobsters, to avoid the waste of worthy gang members. Balsamo was the most important man of the fish-trade in Brooklyn, everyone who owned a "Pescheria" had to pay "commorra" (protection money) to Balsamo and his men and had to join the F.I.S.H. (Federation of Italian Seafood Handlers). To join, one had to pay 500$ initiation fee and 200$ quarterly membership. But fish traders paid the money willingly. The members of the F.I.S.H. received total protection from criminal activities, they enjoyed the privilege of having the monopoly in fish trading and profited from the price agreement . Everybody was free to sell the fish for a higher price, but it was forbidden to sell it cheaper, so everybody was safe from profit loss caused in a price-war.
The only loser were the poor, who couldn't afford the expensive seafood, but Mafiosi like Balsamo still saw themselves as the friends of the poor. However, both, Balsamo and Yale were held in high regard by the immigrants. Not only because they feared the mobsters, further more because they helped the immigrants, who often didn't speak a word English, dealing with the bureaucrats. Balsamo spoke English, Italian and Spanish fluently and he offered his help to all Italians and Puerto Ricans in his neighborhood.
The most important members of the armed squad of the black handers were chef-executioner Willie "Two Knife" Altierri, Anthony "Augie Pisano" Carfano, the top-driver Frenchie Carlino, Francesco's brother Tony and the money collector Benjamin Pazzo. But the black hand were just the second criminal force, the economically more successful mob was the white hand gang, consisting of Irish immigrants. The most lucrative area for mobsters in New York were the docks (the docks of the cargo ships and not the fish-port) , the activities there extended from hijacking goods, oppression (the mobsters call it: fire-, health-, etc.- insurance) and loansharking.
This area was ruled by the "micks" (Irish). Frankie Yale, who was conscious of the great unused potential of his gang, decided that they have to expand on the piers, because in long terms, the white handers would become much too powerful, if he'd leave the racketeering business to them. An escalation of the situation on the rackets was predetermined, and maybe that was exactly what Yale wanted.
In January 1920, black handers started operating on the piers. Few days after they made a contract for protection money with one of the foremen, the first gang member had to pay tribute to Yale's daring plan: Benny Pazzo got shot on his way to collect the weekly "commorra" from the longshoremen. This was the beginning of a decade lasting war.
Yale ordered a meeting of the most important gang members in the infamous Adonis Club, which is run by the Mafioso Fury Argiola (Yale used to go there for important meetings or for having an alibi during executions). The main topic of the meeting was clear: How to kill Denny Meehan, the white handers boss? The difficulty was to kill Meehan without bodyguards and witnesses around. By chance, Altieri told the others, he found out that his sister goes out regularly together with a member of the white hand gang. Altieri filled the mick with alcohol and asked him about the living conditions of his boss.
The most important information he got from his sisters boyfriend was, that the Irish boss lives in a flat which has its sleeping room with a window to the floor. The killers could easily shoot through the glass and escape the building without witnesses.
For this execution, Yale introduced a new trick to cover over any evidence that might link the murder to him and his gang: the engagement of "out of town" killers. The plan was a full success, Danny Meehan died on 1st April 1920 and the police had no clue who the murderer was.
Dannys successor was William "Wild Bill" Lovett, who weren't called Wild Bill for nothing: In his police acts it says, " a psychopath with an extremely dangerous tendency to do harm". It is said that Lovett shot a bartender because he refused to serve whisky to him in the first days of prohibition. The first thing Lovett did as the new leader of the gang, was killing the individual whom he suspected of squealing the details of Denny's rest.
The execution of Denny Meehan was merely an act of revenge, from a more tactical point of view, it has been a failure, because Meehan wasn't able to see the signs of the time. He died in April, but the area of prohibition started three months earlier, in January 1920, the money mobsters could gain by terrorizing the docks were peanuts compared to the vast amount of profit made possible by bootlegging alcohol. Under Meehan's regime, the white handers left the field to the Italians, he preferred to stick to the racketeering activities. The Italians adapted almost by night to this great new business. Everything from delivery to sale of the booze was installed immediately by Francesco Ioele. In numerous cellars people started distilling their own whisky, but not so Frankie Yale, he delivered his alcohol from the Detroit "Purple Gang", they produced without doubt the best bootlegged Whiskey of the prohibition time. The trademark "Old Granddad's" gained a legendary reputation soon, even Irish Pubs often sold it, although the white handers bootlegged a low quality booze themselves.
Bill Lovett tried immediately after Meehan's death to install a bootlegging-ring like the Italians did, but it took him much longer to organize an efficient system in which he could deliver and sell the alcohol. But however, he was much too late, the black handers already dominated the market and besides that, nobody really liked what the Irish were selling.
"Wild Bill" was furious, he lost more and more clientele and as a result of frustration and jealousy he decided to steal one of the trucks delivering Old Granddad's in worth of 30.000$ from Detroit to New York.
As a provocation, the white handers placed the empty truck in front of Yale's garage. Frankie Yale saw that as an unforgivable humiliation and swore revenge, something that would hurt the white handers for ever.
He planned an ambush at the white handers annual dance in Brooklyn's Sagaman's Hall. Again he engaged out of town triggermen for the shootout: Giuseppe Scalise and Alberto Anselmi, two native Sicilians working in Chicago for Alphonse Capone.
The "score" was magnificent, 3 deaths and 10 heavily injured. The murderers could not be identified by any white hander, but even if one of them could he wouldn't tell the police. It's one of the strange rules of the underworld, no cooperation with the police, not even against your enemies. Law must be enforced without help, and that was what the Irish were going to do, everybody knew that, even the newspapers.
The Police didn't search long for Yale, he was in the Adonis club together with his friends, like he used to do. It was useless for the detectives to go any further, because Yale had a perfect alibi.
Unsurprisingly, the white handers planned revenge. They prepared for a shootout at Stauch's Dancehall, were Yale had invited most of New York's Mafiosi to, for a party. Yale didn't expect a reprisal on this particular evening, because he believed false rumors, that the white handers planned an operation on the docks. Four white handers dressed like musicians, Danny Bean, "Irish Eyes" Duggan, Richard Lonergan and Eddie McFarland, stepped into Stauch's Dancehall. Before they could have been identified as enemies, they opened the fire. Five people died, four Italians and Danny Bean, one of the assassins.
On both sides, totally innocent people died, two girls who had nothing to do with crime let their lives in the killings. That's why Frankie Yale decided to stop the mass killings, the device was now only to go after the "big ones", one after one.
The first victim was Eddie McFarland who got killed with a knife while he was watching a film in a cinema together with one of his numerous girlfriends. At first the police thought that the girl he was together with performed the murder out of passion. Later the police found out that a girl of her size would never had the power to stab a knife as deeply into the body the way it stuck into it. The real circumstances under which the killing was performed remained mysterious, even Bill Lovett didn't know whether he should blame his rivals for the murder or one of Eddie's jealous girlfriends.
The authors believe that again a killer from Chicago murdered McFarland. As a reaction to that, Lovett ordered a killing on Antonio Desso, the Mafia's most successful Bar and restaurant manager.
He declared this step as revenge for Eddie, but furthermore, economic consideration was responsible for this measure. The white handers had big problems with their income since the black hand gang spread over the docks. The superb success, the Italians made with their illegal alcohol trade, made them even more powerful. Lovett feared that he might lose control over the Docks and other lucrative areas for illegal operations, so he thought he can hinder the black handers from becoming more powerful by killing one of their most important money makers. But his hitmen did a fatal error, they killed Giovanni instead of Antonio Desso, because of his similar outward appearance.
For the black handers, it appeared absurd why somebody wanted to kill Giovanni Desso, who was a simple worker on the docks. Yale knew immediately what has to be done with the two clumsy murderers, and this time, none out of town killer should perform the hit. Yale picked two of Balsamo's guys to kill Duggan and Pug McCarthy, to reintegrate the unmotivated co-boss (indeed, Yale didn't knew that Giuseppe Balsamo already picked his bodyguard Vincenzo Mangano to replace him after his retirement). For Balsamo, it was a great honor that Yale asked him for help, and he recommended his three nephews who just came from Sicily to New York. The three youngsters did a good job, after they filled the two Irish mobsters with led and then they threw the bodies sitting in their car into the sea. Days after the murder police officers found the dead white handers in their wet grave. 1921, This was in the eighteenth month of the conflict between the black and the white handers, and the two Irishmen were dead body number fourteen and fifteen. But the score was very much in favor of the Italian gang: Ten dead Irish compared to five dead Italian bodies.
Eight months passed without blood spilling actions, it seemed like the micks accept their loss and do without revenge. It was a trap, Yale got lazy and didn't pay enough attention on what the white handers were doing. In June 1922, Yale was invited to his a party of his old friend Joe Masseria, the boss of Manhattan's black hand gang.
On the way, Yale and his bodyguards got shot from an empty flat of a building where the white handers hid. The bodyguard died and Frankie Yale survived badly injured.
After some time in hospital he was on the best way to regain best shape (even after years he used to visit the doctors and buy flowers for the nurses who saved his life).
The police interrogated him, if he thinks that Bill Lovett might have something to do with the (attempted) murder, but as usual, the gangster codex forbid Yale to squeal.
During Yale's absence, Willie Altieri found out, that Joey Bean was the one who pulled the trigger. But this time, the Mafiosi planned a special treatment, instead of Joey, they killed his brother Petey Bean, they considered it a better revenge to let him suffer by killing his only brother left, than to shoot Joey up. This murder remained one of the unsolved mysteries of the underworld. The story that preceded the murder is clearly told by several witnesses: Petey got a fake love letter by woman who never saw him in her life. Disappointed about her refusal he started screaming at her, a lot of people watched him, and Petey decided to leave her alone. A sudden rain made him hiding in a hallway, after the rain eased up, he was found dead on the street and beside him stood a police officer in civil (the woman's husband) and declared that he slipped on the wet ground while they fought, because he bothered his wife. The medical examiner found out two surprising facts: Petey got a severe fracture of the skull during the fight, that cannot be caused by bare fists, and even more strange is that Petey didn't die because of a fractured skull. A cerebral hemorrhage brought by acute alcoholism caused the death!
There are a lot of contradictions in this murder case: what caused the fracture of Petey's skull? Who sent the fake letter? Had the autopsy been performed seriously? Where started and where ended the influence of the black hand gang? Did the Mafia had its hands in this murder anyway? We'll never know.
This time, the white handers wanted to kill Alitieri for revenge, one of the black hand gangs most important member. Again, similar to the killing on Giovanni Desso, the white handers killed the false person, they shot Antonio Gibaldi, a part time criminal who ran a bootblack shop, instead of "two knife" Altierri.
Yale didn't have to send one of his guys for revenge, Antonio's son, Vincenzo Gibaldi vowed that he will some day kill his fathers murderers. Vincenzo practiced shooting every day, and 1924 two years after the unfortunate assassination of his father, he felt that the time is right to repay his fathers death.
He killed Jimmy McCarthy and Joey Bean and as a bonus he tried to track down William Lovett, but this murder attempt went wrong, Bill survived heavily injured. Frankie Yale knew about the talent of young Vincenzo Gibaldi, but what he disliked is that the youngster works alone. Team-play is very important in organized crime, he didn't want his people to act on their own fists, so he sent Gibaldi to work for his friend Al Capone, who needed another talented murderer in his team (in Chicago Vincenzo became known as "Machine-gun McGurn").
At the same time in September 1923, while Yale introduced a new sort of income (the idea for it came from Capone) not only to offer protection money to restaurants, but also to the food laundry, the white hand gang changed their leadership again. After the almost deadly attack, Bill Lovett decided to marry Richards Lonergan's sister Anna. His wife persuaded him to give up the illegal business and to start a new life (Lovett was a formidable plumber, so he got a new job immediately). His brother in law Richard Lonergan took over the fate of the white hand gang. Just a month after his retirement, Bill Lovett got killed while he was sleeping after a booze-up with an old friend. This was the beginning of a new terror wave in Brooklyn, hardly a week passed without a white or black hander biting the dust. Richard Lonergan became totally obsessed by thoughts of revenge after the death of his first and only girlfriend in his life (died in the ambush of Sagaman's hall), and now of his friend and brother in law. In November 1924, the number of deaths rose to 40, 19 dead black handers and 21 dead white handers.
Same month in November, Yale got a sudden call from Al Capone. Capone asked Yale for a favor: he should help him to get rid of O'Bannion, Chicago's white handers leader. As a compensation for the risk Yale had to take, Capone promised Yale to help him becoming the president of the "Unione Sicilione". Yale couldn't resist the deal. He always thought that the position as a nationwide leader is entitled to him anyway, because of all black hand leaders, he managed the territory (Brooklyn) with the biggest population.
Frankie Yale's legal business was an undertaking enterprise, Capone officially invited him to organize a funeral, therefore he needed a lot of flowers. O'Bannion's officially worked in a flower store, so Yale ordered them at his store.
O'Bannion didn't know how Francesco Ioele looks like, so Yale could easily enter the shop together with his gunmen without any rise of suspicion.
Of course that were the last flowers O'Bannion sold.
The need for this measure was that Capone and Torrio (the second mob leader in Chicago) had big problems with the authorities, and they needed to get rid of O'Bannion in a way that leaves them beyond any suspicions. Yale, who was main suspect for the murder had enough well paid witnesses who saw him dining at a restaurant.
Chicago's black hand gang got rid of their biggest rival and Frankie Yale became president of the Unione Sicilione. But at the same time, the rest of the white hand gang planned a murder on Johnny Torrio, who survived luckily. He retired and left his part of Chicago to Al Capone, who was now over-all boss of his city.
In New York, the white handers discussed how to survive as an underworld force and finally they came to the conclusion that there is no other way than to cooperate with the Italian mob. Yale showed himself willing to make a deal with the white handers, although his gang was far more powerful, did Yale really want to prevent the Irish mob from distinction? The opposite was the case, Yale worked out a genius plan how to ruin the white handers without warfare. Yale knew that the trade with foreign countries will stagnate the next time , so he separated the docks. He offered the white handers a contract, which intended to separate the Brooklyn docks into two almost equally big parts. The docks where the inner American trade passed were designated to the Italians, the others should be under Irish influence. Maybe Richard Lonergan just didn't read enough newspapers or he wasn't interested in politics, however, the white handers agreed with the contract. After five months of peace, Lonergan realized, that the Italians made advantage of the white handers crisis and his foolishness, to palm the crooked contract off on them. Thereupon Lonergan ordered his boys simply to go back to their old docks, and do if there has never been a contract. The first confrontation ended with a shooting, a white hander had to leave his life for Lonergan's stupid order. As a result of the desperation, the white handers killed some lowly ranked black handers. These killings provoked a huge wave of violence: in the time between the end of June and early December 1925, 8 black handers and 26! white handers let their lives. Lonergan had to face a big problem, most his members quitted, because they feared that they may be the next target. Although he knew that the war against the powerful enemy is useless and cannot be won, Lonergan didn't focused at damage limitation.
He spent all his time planning ambushes for black handers, that is way even loyal members like Eddie Lynch left the gang. He walked into the Italian Adonis Club to have a talk with Frankie Yale, and told him, that he don't want to work for Lonergan anymore. Yale couldn't believe his ears, when Eddie told him, that he wants to work for the Mafia know, but as a sign of his loyalty, he revealed his new boss, that Lonergan planned a shootout in the Adonis club, during the black hander's Christmas party (usually a big fete with strippers and all the other stuff a man's heart loves). Christmas eve 1925 was the last in the war Irish against Italians, only the driver of the white handers could escape, all the others died in the Adonis club, where the well prepared Italians were already waiting for them. Star of the evening was Al Capone, who insisted in taking part in the shooting, he fired the lethal shots on Richard Lonergan. Nobody heard about the white hand gang in New York ever again.
Francesco Ioele died in July 1928 in his car, but he didn't die because of the impact when his car crashed against the wall. A shotgun destroyed the window and several bullets of a submachine gun his head. The killing was well prepared, the car Yale was driving, should have already been 100% bullet proof, the only part of the car that wasn't were the windows!
The man who killed Frankie Yale was Vincenzo Gibaldi, and the man who ordered and prepared the killing, was "Scarface" Al Capone. The reasons for Yale's assassination were simply that he became greedy and too powerful. The cause was that under his domination more and more trucks loaded with booze, which belonged to Capone, got lost. Yale's gang had the job to escort the goods from the Brooklyn docks through Queens and over the Hudson River. Of course for Capone, the murder of Frankie Yale meant an increase of power in the Unione Sicilione. Al Capone was born in 1899 as a son of Italian immigrants. He was a highly skilled baseball player and he would have become a professional, if he didn't always lose his temper.
He started his illegal career as a contract killer without scruple, his friend Johnny Torrio pushed him into his powerful position. That time Jim Colosimo managed the black hand in a loose federation of a half dozen other gangs in Chicago.
Torrio thought that Colosimo wasn't the right man for this job, he wasn't clever enough to lead the black hand gang that it became a powerful underworld force. Torrio formed, together with the other gang leaders, a conspiracy against Colosimo, who got shot in a bar after closing time.
Under Torrio's leadership, the black hand gang formed a Syndicate, together with the gangs of Chicago's suburbs. He introduced prostitution and gambling as a knew sort of income, but the most lucrative crime remained bootlegging operations. Even before Torrio's retirement, Capone had a lot of enemies, they were either state attorneys or mobsters. One of them was state attorney McSwiggin, who always failed in bringing Capone behind bars. Al had a lot of friends in the city hall because he possessed an extremely good feeling of how and whom to give some money, besides that, Capone acted very smart in the court, so he always escaped the law. The other enemies were the successors of O'Bannion, who saw the only possibility in regaining power, by killing Al Capone (all of them died an unnatural death). The last strike against Chicago's white handers was on Valentines Day 1929, seven people died, one of them in hospital (the policemen hoped that the only surviving would point out the murderers before he dies, but he didn't). Witnesses told, that two men in police uniforms brought the victims into the garage were they have been shot. Why they masqueraded themselves as policemen is unclear, but it is thought, that the Mafiosi wanted their victims to think, that it'll going to be a normal police interrogation, so nobody of them could suspect their forthcoming assassination. During the massacre, Al Capone was in Florida for vacation, there was no evidence against him. Some days after the interrogation, Al Capone got caught with a gun in Philadelphia after the visit in a cinema together with a friend. Capone got sentenced for one year in jail, and that was exactly what he wanted, because he feared revenge for the Valentine's day massacre and there were no saver place than in jail. There, Capone could run his mob without being disturbed. The most famous crime at this time was without doubt the murder of Alfred J. Lingle, a reporter of the Chicago tribune. He was a friend of the Mafia, and already did some favors for them, but his fault was that he knew too much, and that he was suspected of making profit with this knowledge. The mob found out, that the International Revenue Service (IRS) started an investigation against Al Capone to charge him for tax evasion. The IRS offered Lingle a huge sum if he was willing to help them finding evidence against Capone, Al's informants found out that Lingle got weak, so he had to die.
However, if Al couldn't be charged for murder, the authorities accused him of tax evasion, even without Lingle's help.
Capone offered the state a bill of 150.000$ back-payment, thought himself off the hook, and concentrated on the business that ran better than ever before because of the great depression. In general, economical disastrous times offer the greatest profit for organized crime, maybe the Mafia had never got what it is now, without the big stock-crashes around the globe after world war I. In January 1931, the grand jury indicted Al Capone for income tax violations between 1924 to 1929. They figured that Capone owes the state 215.000$, which he was willing to pay. But the authorties didn't want his dirty money, the state attorneys wanted him in jail. There were witnesses and bills that showed that Capone could never afford his expensive lifestyle without untaxed income. He was sentenced for eleven years in prison.
From Atlanta he got transferred to Alcatraz the infamous high security prison. Capone wasn't able anymore to run the Syndicate from prison, during his seven and a half year in the penitrary he was completely out of business. After his release he wasn't the old "Scarface" anymore, the time in prison turned him into a mental wreck because his Syphilis wasn't treated medically. Alphonse Capone died on the 25th January in 1947.
The successor of Frankie Yale was Anthony Carfano, he was now responsible for Brooklyn, but his influence on the underworld couldn't be compared to Frankie Yale's. The weakness of Brooklyn's new leader offered more power to the other Mafiosi in top positions in New York. Joe Masseria, an Italian from Palermo who came to New York in 1902, who had control over parts of Manhattan in, felt that his power in New York has improved since the demise Francesco Ioele. But another Mafioso also had intentions to fill the vacuum Yale left, one of Masseria's own guys: Salvatore Maranzano from Castellammarese (another part of southern Italy). This conflict broke the Mafia into two rival parts, those from Palermo (Masseria) among them Costello, Gambino, Moretti, Luciano, Adonis and Genovese and those from Castellammarese (Maranzano): Luchese, Gagliano, Bonnano, Magliocco and Profaci.
The war between these two parties escalated when Maranzano declared that he wont accept Masseria as the boss any longer. Suddenly some Sicilians from Castellamarese died. That was the beginning of the war. As a reaction to the killings, Maranzano ordered the murder on Peter Morello, one Masseria's most important triggermen.
In July 1931, Maranzano had evolved a completely new clan of 500 soldiers. Inspite that Masseria had 400 men more under his control, he tried to achieve a peaceful ending of the war, but unfortunately the other part wasn't interested in peace. The powerful people behind the stage were Vito Genovese and Charles Luciano, and they decided that the time has come to step in. They saw that Joe Masseria was loosing step by step control over his men and the ability to act wisely, so they formed a conspiracy against their boss. Not because they felt more sympathy for Salvatore Maranzano, that was absolutely not the case, Luciano and Genovese came to the conclusion, that only when the inner peace is ensured, the Mafia is able to work efficiently. After Masseria's death, Maranzano took over the leadership of the black hand gang, he was the first over-all boss after Frankie Yale's death, and called himself "capo di tutti capi". He structured the Mafia completely new: Maranzano divided New York into five "families", with administrators (capo) and underbosses.
1.Gaetano Gagliano and underboss Thomas Luchese
2.Charles Luciano and Vito Genovese
3.Joseph Profaci together with his brother in law with Joe Magliocco as underboss
4.Vincenzo together with his brother Phil Mangano and Alberto Anastasia
5.Joseph Bonanno and Carmine Galante
Salvatore Maranzao wasn't a popular leader, he was regarded as even more greedy and power hungry as the departed Joe Masseria and Frankie Yale. He was also suspected of arranging theft of merchandise from his own gang and hijacking liquor laden trucks of Luciano's and Genovese's running operations. Again it were Luciano and Genovese who decided that something has to be done about the misery.
Maranzano was aware that some of the "capi" planned his funeral, and so he made a list of Mafia-bosses who should be rubed off including first of all Genovese and Luciano, but also Vincenzo Mangano and even Al Capone (who wasn't in jail in 1931). However, Maranzano died first and his successor, Charles Luciano let 50 friends of the "capo di tutti capi" kill over night, to avoid a similar fate.
Luciano leaded the Mafia into a completely new stage and into new heights of power. He dreamed of a national syndicate, including both coasts and cooperation with all ethics, he was the first who ended up with the narrow-minded patriotic attitude of the Mafia.
This is the only way his syndicate could really gain worldwide influence, thought Luciano. Soon, the Mafia and it's associates controlled all rackets nationwide, not only in New York. The most important cooperates of the Mafia in the syndicate were the Jewish Murder Inc., who were specialized for contract killings (over 1000 killings in ten years). The head of murder Inc. was Louis Buchalter, the chef executioner Beanie Siegel. Siegel was born in Manhatten, but moved to L.A. where he had good relations with film producers and actors like for example Jack Warner and Clark Gable.
Luciano had his hands in every gambling, protection, prostitution, loansharking and narcotics operation. Similar to Al Capone, Luciano had excellent relations with members of the city hal, what gave him a status of political immunity. He was doing very well, better than all of his predecessors, but he did two big mistakes:
1) Luciano's biggest income was prostitution, he organized the biggest ring nationwide. But the prostitutes working for him were treated badly, they got little money and were beaten brutally. His girls began to rebel, but he gave no attention to that. "Whores are dumb and have no guts" he used to say. He even let them listen to the phone calls with his business partners.
2) His second fault was that he let US state attorney Thomas Dewey alive. Arthur Schulz of Murder Inc. wanted Dewey dead, because he feared his uncompromising attitudes (and because he wasn't corrupt). Luciano voted against the killing of Dewey, because his death would threw too much public attention on the Mafia. Schulz wanted to perform the murder without the agreement of the Mafia, but he got killed before he could do the same with Dewey (it is said that he got killed by a contract killer of his own gang). Tom Dewey got in contact with the prostitutes (not as a client, I think) who were willing to make a testimony against their boss.
1936, the jury found Luciano guilty in 62 counts of white slavery, he was sentenced to 30-50 years in jail. The next man on top was Vito Genovese who was famous for his ruthless style of ruling. But he didn't remain for long: Genovese fled the USA because state attorneys had evidence against him of a cold blooded murder committed in 1934, what meant that he has a free seat on the electric chair. He went back to Italy, where he built up a black market during the fascist years.
The new leader was Frank Costello, who ran the Mafia the opposite way Genovese did. He ruled the Mafia like an enterprise, he had all qualities of a top manager. His specialty was "persuading" politicians, his deals were probably more effective than ten killings. He didn't want to be involved in the daily operations, he focused on the gambling operations successively. He focused more on his own business legal and illegal, therefore the successors of the Luciano family took over the leadership more and more (unofficially of course; Charles Luciano himself did still influence the decisions within the Mafia a lot from prison).
1940, the situation for some Mafiosi got really hot, the police got hold of four Murder Inc. members, among them nobody else than Abe Reles, one of the founders. State attorney Dewey and O'Dwyer made a deal with the witnesses that they will be treated better in their forthcoming trails, if they'd point out other members of Murder Inc's and the Mafia. They did, 1942 five members of the syndicate were sentenced to death. That was the end of Murder Inc., who weren't competitive anymore, they lost their whole team of leaders. Abe Reles, who probably could have brought Beanie Siegel on the death row died in the same year mysteriously.
In 1943, Luciano was released from prison under one condition, he had to go back to Italy without traveling to another country ever again. The reason authorities were so mild with the gangster Luciano was, that he helped the allies in world war II landing in Sicily, he revealed military secrets to them about the Italian defending systems. Charles "Lucky" Luciano died 1962 in Naples of natural causes.
Vito Genovese did nine months in an Italian prison, until 1945 US agents brought him back to America to stand his trial (from a diplomatic point of view, I can't understand why the Italian government let him go, but fact is, that he left Italy involuntarily). Indeed, the US agents did Genovese a favor (of course it wasn't their intention to do so): all witnesses died and the court dropped the murder rap because of the lack of evidence, Genovese was a free man. He tried to install himself as the mob-leader again, but there was one man standing in his way: Frank Costello. Most of the Mafia members didn't want to have Genovese instead of Costello for two good reasons: Costello ran the mob much more peaceful than Genovese did, and Genovese was nine years absent, so he simply wasn't up to date. However, Genovese wanted to regain power with violence and sent a killer to get rid of his rival.
Frank Costello survived the killing attempt, but it seemed to him that it is too risky to go on so he gave up, Genovese was back in business. In 1951, Genovese decided to kill Alberto Anastasia, because he got too powerful. Anastasia gained rule over the Mangano family after having cleared away his old bosses Phil and Vincenzo Mangano. Genovese wasn't happy with his new neighbor, because Anastasia tried to persuade Costello to take over his old job as the leader of the Luciano family again, and that would mean that Genovese has to give up his position. Genovese went to his friend Carlo Gambino and offered him a deal: He would help him to become the capo of the Mangano-family, if he killed Anastasia. Gambino agreed, and hired the three Gallo brothers for the murder. After the assassination, Genovese wanted the other Mafiosi to accept him as the new capo di tutti capi and therefore he organized a meeting with all the other highly ranked Mafiosi. He planned to justify his attacks on Costello and Anastasia and furthermore to set the guidelines for next years:
. Get rid of unreliable and untrustworthy Mafiosi
. Stopping the easy access to a Mafia membership* (Alberto Anastasia sold membership for 50.000$)
. Cut down drug trafficking, because the authorities were very successful in cracking down drug-rings
But the police prevented the meeting by arresting the invited guests shortly before it started. It became even tougher for Vito, his wife wanted divorce and told the authorities about their expansive lifestyle and how they got the money to do so.
At the same time a small drug dealer said in a testimony, that he received his orders from him. In 1959, Vito Genovese was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for being part of a drug trafficking ring. Ten years later he died in jail.
Bad times began for the Mafia and especially for the Luciano family. Nobody seemed to be capable to run the syndicate. The only one who was skilled enough for the job, was Thomas Luchese, but he refused the job, because he had enough to do running his own family. The next candidate was Joe Profaci, but he had big problems within his own family. The infamous Gallo-brothers proclaimed that they should obtain the leadership in the Profaci family.
Joe Gallo, the chef of the revolt had indeed good arguments against Profaci, but the commission ("parliament" of the Mafia) decided not to step in, because they feared that the Gallos would set an example for other young gangsters without scruple.
In 1960, a bloody war began between the supporters of the Gallo-brothers and Joe Profaci. During the war, Joe Gallo got busted by the police for black marketeering and was sentenced for 7-14 years in prison, this was the end of the revolt. Ironically, 1962 after Profaci won the war, he got sick and died. His legitimate successor would have been Antonio Maglicco, but the commission refused him as the new capo, because he was too weak. Joe Bonanno, who watched the whole situation with one eye always on the job of the capo di tutti capi, offered a huge sum to Magliocco, if he'd knock off the other candidates for the job. Magliocco engaged Joe Colombo to do the dirty work for him, but Colombo told the Commission straight what Magliocco planned to do. Colombo got rewarded for his loyalty by receiving the leadership over the Profaci family and Magliocco, who feared for his life, got away with a payment of 50.000$, because the Commission knew that Joe Bonanno set up the conspiracy. Carlo Gambino, the most powerful capo of the 60s, who recommended Colombo, voted for the expulsion of Joe Bonanno out of the commission, the others agreed. Joe Bonanno fled to California while his son Salvatore kept the troops working, even the underbosses stayed loyal to Joe, because he ran the family splendidly, the Bonanno family prospered while the others had to face financial problems. 1964 Bonano moved to Canada, he refused any meeting with the commission, after the Canadian authorities threw him out of the country, Joe looked for another hideout. At that time, the commission replaced Joe's son with Caspar DiGregorio, who received hardly any respect by his underlings. Back in New York Joe Bonanno got kidnapped by members of the commission who kept him several weeks to "persuade" him that, he should accept the change in leadership and that he shall never return to mob activity ever again. After his release, he hid himself in Tahiti, but in May 1966 Joe Bonanno reappeared, he tried to do everything to ensure that the leadership of his family falls upon his son Salvatore Bonanno. In this time, the "Banana War" was already in full motion. It seemed like DiGregorio was looking for a peaceful end and invited Salvatore for a talk. Of course DiGregorio planned an ambush for his rival, but it resulted in a shooting without a single man injured. This foolishness woke the interest of the newspapers.
The commission decided to install Paul Sciacca instead of DiGregorio, but the war wasn't over yet. In 1966 the new leader Sciacca got heavily injured in an ambush, and nine other Mafiosi died. Joe Bonanno got killed after the war and his son went into early retirement.
DiGregorio's successor Sciacca declared that he isn't the right man for the job. After several other leaders Natale Evola received the responsibility for the Bonanno family, but the successful times of the Bonanno family never returned.
After seven years in prison, Joe Gallo was a free man again, and he wanted the power over the Profaci family. Colombo died soon, he got shot during one of the festivals of the Italian-American-Civil-Rights-League (IACRL; a popular movement, which fought against the discrimination of American-Italians). Twelve others died in the war. The only one who profited, was Carlo Gambino, who supplied the two parties with weapons. Gambino waited for the right moment to step in and took over the Profaci family after he pulled Gallo out of his way. As well as he became the new capo of the Luciano family. Gambino de facto gained control over all New York, because the capi of the two other families were too afraid to speak up against him.
Carlo Gambino became the first capo di tutti capi after Salvatore Maranzano in 1931.
Since 1931 the commission divises territory, authorizes members and orders killings. But the Mafia installed itself more and more into the essential business like food-, clothing-, and even pharmatheuticals supply. The number prosecutions was very disappointing for the authorities, until technological development made the electronic around the clock surveillance possible. The law that allowed the usage of the surveillance equipment was to follow. The RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations) was used for the first time in the 80s, the police could arrest eight Mafiosi in top positions who were believed to be part of the commission.
The Mafia has its hands in more legal businesses than we think:
On the Waterfront:
The Mafia has influenced the New York docks since the war against the white handers and widened it to Boston, New Orleans, Charleston and Maiami. Racketeering and protection payments remained a common procedure.
The Mafia's influence at the airports costs the airlines several billion dollars each year.
Especially at the Kennedy airport freight center, the extend of the Mafia is enormous, cargo 50$ billion worth passes the airport every year. The mob even runs several trucking firms which transport the cargo to and from the airports. The Mafia's influence over Kennedy airport is big enough to shut it down.
Law enforcement officers estimate that the Mafia makes a profit of 2,5$ billion with the bootlegging of cigarettes. Mafia started selling their own (or stolen) cigarettes after the increase of tax. The mob offered the package 1.50$ cheaper than the official dealers. In New York, the state mourns an annual loss of tax of estimated 500 million dollar. They often labeled their cigarettes with stolen of counterfeited tax-stamps.
The New York garment district is almost totally reign by the Mafia. The Mob emplois more than 200.000 people in the fashion industry and makes a 12$ billion profit each year (legal profit and laundered money of illegal operations). The infrastructure of trucking companies who bring in the raw materials as well as deliver the finished clothing , so the whole clothing industry is dependent on the Mafia. The syndicate also borrows money to those who don't get a credit from legal banks, because their company is too risky. Shop owners who cannot pay back the money have to leave their company to the Mafia (otherwise they swim around in the Atlantic-sea involuntarily).
In food supply:
A lot of meat sold to the butchers has passed organized crime (often from hijacked trucks or shipment). Fishers still suffer from the influance of the Mafia. A common oppression used by the mob is are food-inspectors who declare the fish as old and rotting and they lose their permission if they don't want to pay. The great problem with the Mafia's influence in food supply is not only an economic but also for the health of the consumer. Corruption opens the market for cheap and low quality food.
The big Mafia domain of course remained prostitution and the porn industry, not only in New York, but all over the US. Also the construction industry, the hotel-, the restaurant-, and the bar-business an important income for the mob.
1985, the commission received a 15 counts indictment against nine defendants, among them the 5 capi of New York: Tony Salerno (Luciano), Philip Rastelli (Bonanno), Genaro Langella (Profaci), Paul Castellano (Mangano) and Tony Corallo (Gagliano). Castellano was killed before the trial another indicted Mafioso die of natural causes. The prosecution team was formed by state attorney by Rodolpho Giuliani. His indictments included loansharking, gambling, drug trafficking, the set up of a million dollar extortion scheme upon ready-mix concrete industry and even murder (of Carmine Galante in 1979). The comission diminished the free market by running the "club". They decided which company becomes the job order, and that was usually the one who paid for contract. Those who didn't obay the rules of the Club got problems, the Mafia stopped their supply with cement, because the truckers obeyed the Mafia (through labor unions). During the trial, the government brought more than 80 witnesses and 150 tapes which proofed that the commission was involved in the crimes they were indicted of. All the defendants were found guilty, and their peanlties were between 50-100 years in prison. A year later, twenty two other Mafiosi were indicted of drug trafficking, this case became known as the "pizza-connection" trial. This was the great opportunity in history, the US government had the chance to make a great damage to the drug-ring. The first defendant got killed during the trial, the others who didn't showed up were expected to be flown to Italy or Switzerland. During the eighteenth month of the trial, another of the 19 defendants got shot. The most important witness of the state attorneys was Tommaso Buscetta, an ex-member of the mob. Buscetta told the jury what the defendants had to do with drug-trafficking, but he also explained the rituals and the structure of the Mafia to the public. With his help, 666 Mafiosi in Italy and the US were arrested. In March 1987, all seventeen defendants were found guilty in the "pizza connection" case. It was called pizza connection, because restaurants and pizza takeaways were used to wash the money of the drug-profits.
Even tough the Mafia's involvement in industry, its situation got worse since the imprisonment of Vito Genovese in 1959. His successors Gerardo Catena and Tomas Eboli couldn't really replace him. 1972 the leadership got to Tony Salerno who sits in prison since the destruction of the commission. Paul Castellano, successor of the mighty Carlo Gambino, got killed in 1985. John Gotti followed (and probably killed) him and managed his territory as badly as the other families did.
But, as the only one, he beat the rap in 1987, when he was indicted of operating in a racketeering-ring for 18 years. The times of the powerful dons, in their palaces, taking part in ridiculous rituals, killing of rivals are over. During the latest trials, the secrets of the ways the Mafia operates were laid bare as never before.
The Mafia had to invent new strategies and changes in the common procedure, couriers are used know instead of information exchange in great ceremonial meetings. In the 70s Gambino started a new movement, to refresh with old world blood by importing young Sicilian Mafiosi, discipline should be reinstalled, enforced by people like Tommaso Buscetta. 900-100 fugitive Italians were smuggled into the US used for contract killings, loan-sharking, hijacking and extortion. They seemed to be better in leaving no clues to the police. (How to search someone by fingerprints who isn't registered in the US?) It seems like the Italian born are too weak to replace the dead or imprisoned gangsters. That is the big chance for the so-called "zips".
The success of the prosecutors made it very difficult for the new leaders. Especially the use of the RICO makes it impossible for the American hoods to act. Nowadays Mafia bosses are dark people hardly anyone knows, people like Gotti, with the popularity and fame of a holywood-star are part of the past. The future of the mob is hard to foresee, but law enforcers say that the zips will not be able to restore the influence of the once powerful families.