Tag Archive: FBI


Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, Ph.D. is both a fictional character who features in the best-selling novels created by author Kathy Reichs and the lead female character in a Fox TV series partly based on the novels.

On television, Emily Deschanel portrays Dr. Brennan, and former "Angel" star David Boreanaz is FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth.

Brennan gets shot:

The Premise

"Bones" (a nickname she doesn’t particularly like) is a genius forensic anthropologist, who also holds Ph.D.’s in anthropology and kinesiology. Working out of the Medico-Legal lab at Washington, D.C.’s fictional Jeffersonian Institute, she serves as a consultant to the FBI, where’s she’s partnered with Special Agent Seeley Booth – her partner in a relationship outside the office that’s ultimately led to marriage and two kids.

Using her extremely high IQ, an obsessive adherence to scientific discipline, and mad forensic skills that have gained her a global reputation as an authority in the field, Dr. Brennan reconstructs murders based on the bone fragments and other organic residue discovered at a crime scene.

But her path to success wasn’t easy.

A Troubled Past

Brennan’s parents were notorious bank robbers, who changed their names from Ruth and Max Keenan and disappeared when Temperance (whose birth name was Joy Keenan) was 3 years old. She grew up in foster homes, and was often the victim of violent abuse. In later episodes of the TV series, it’s revealed that Ruth Keenan/Christine Brennan was murdered two years after she and her husband went on the run.

Max Keenan (played on TV by Ryan O’Neal) later came out of the shadows to assist his daughter when she became the target for a killer, and has returned on occasion as a recurring character in the show. So too has Temperance’s Benjamin Franklin-obsessed cousin Margaret Whitesell, who’s played by Emily Deschanel’s real-life sister Zooey.

A Brilliant Mind

Perhaps due to her blunted childhood, Brennan’s academic brilliance manifests as a Spock-like adherence to logic and scientific rigor, an inability to "get" traditional forms of humor or sarcasm, and awkward social skills. But she’s at heart a good and generous person, whose true character somehow always manages to transcend these limits.

Over several seasons of the TV series, "Bones" has mellowed and evolved, becoming a much more personable human being.

Bones not so cold:

Some Great Friends

A great influence on her is Brennan’s partner and FBI liaison, Seeley Booth. It was he who also coined the term "squints" for the forensic team at the Jeffersonian; brilliant scientists who squint at case evidence. "Bones" has a highly skilled set of colleagues, to assist in her investigations.

There’s Angela Montenegro, a talented forensic artist with prodigious 3D visualization skills, made even keener by the latest in holographic technology – who’s also Brennan’s best friend. Forensic pathologist Camille Saroyan is their department head at the Jeffersonian Institute, where entomologist Jack Hodgins performs magical feats of deduction using bugs, worms, maggots, or whatever species of vermin most infests a crime scene or corpse. And the team is assisted by a rotating set of quirky interns.

Some Great Television

"Bones" has been playing on Fox Television for several years, with season 8 culminating in the (finally…) marriage of Brennan and Booth.

Now into its 11th season, the show has an appreciable fan base – and the strength to try out new ideas, such as the recent crossover with the supernatural detective series "Sleepy Hollow":

"Bones"-"Sleepy Hollow crossover

Word and Screen

There are currently 17 Temperance Brennan novels which have been penned by Kathy Reichs. The books share only a loose continuity with the TV show. But notably, the television series features a direct and ongoing link: Emily Deschanel’s "Bones" is an internationally best-selling novelist whose detective fiction features a forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs, whose life and methods mirrors that of Brennan’s own character.

Both the books and the show are well worth a look.



Dale Bartholomew Cooper is a fictional character, an eccentric Special Agent of the FBI. Cooper was the central figure of the ABC television series “Twin Peaks”, and was played by actor Kyle MacLachlan.

The series was created by legendary film director David Lynch and Mark Frost, and went on to achieve a cult status of its own.

The Man, and His Methods

David Lynch named Cooper as a reference to D. B. Cooper, the unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft on November 24, 1971. Cooper escaped by parachute, never to be seen, again.

Born on April 19, 1954, the fictional Dale Cooper is a graduate of Haverford College. After joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cooper was based at the Bureau offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was partnered there with the older Special Agent Windom Earle (actor Kenneth Welsh) – a closet psychopath whose various crimes (when they came to light) would return to haunt Cooper, in later years.

Key among these was the case of Earle’s wife, Caroline, who witnessed a federal crime, some time after Cooper joined the Bureau. Earle and Cooper were assigned to protect her; it was around this time that Cooper began an affair with Caroline. One night in Pittsburgh, Cooper let his guard down – and Caroline was murdered by her husband (who had also committed the crime witnessed by Caroline, during a psychotic break). Windom Earle was subsequently sent to a mental institution, from which he would later escape, to wreak havoc in Twin Peaks.

Cooper was devastated by the loss of the woman he would later refer to as the love of his life. He swore to never again become involved with someone who was part of a case to which he was assigned.

An introspective man, Cooper is fueled by a profound interest in the mystical, especially the mythology of Tibetan and Native American cultures. Much of his work is based on intuition and the interpretation of dreams, rather than conventional logic. While working a case, Cooper also dictates regular reports to his (never seen) assistant Diane, using a hand-held tape recorder.

“A hairless mouse with a pitchfork sang a song about caves.”

Okay, this is actually a quote from the “Twin Peaks” parody sketch when Kyle Maclachlan guest hosted Saturday Night Live in 1990. But the fact that it’s not a million miles from the kind of stuff Dale Cooper puts out during his “real” adventures gives an indication of the methods of the man.

At some point in his career, Cooper was placed under the direct authority of FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (played in the series by David Lynch, himself). Under Cole’s mandate, Cooper was occasionally assigned the mysterious ‘Blue Rose’ cases.

The Town, and Its People

On February 24, 1989, Cooper arrives in the fictional Northwestern town of Twin Peaks, to investigate the murder of local teenager Laura Palmer (actress Sheryl Lee). Here’s a YouTube clip, of Dale’s arrival, from the series’ pilot episode:

It’s a complex case, involving the town’s eccentric characters (like The Log Lady), metaphysical entities, and other-dimensional spaces like the mysterious Black Lodge. During his extended stay, Cooper winds up helping the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department to investigate other cases, as well.

Cooper gains an instant rapport with many of the townspeople – including Sheriff Harry S. Truman (yes, like the President; actor Michael Ontkean) and his junior officers, Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill and Deputy Andy Brennan. 18-year-old Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn), the daughter of local businessman Benjamin Horne, develops a serious crush on the eccentric FBI man. Over time, a close and affectionate friendship develops, between the two.

And Cooper falls in love with the “damn fine coffee”, and cherry pie, for which the town would become famous. Check out the YouTube clip below, to get a flavor of the place:

The Laura Palmer mystery is eventually “resolved” on an ambiguous note, with Dale Cooper’s evil doppelganger on the loose in Twin Peaks (a fugitive from the Black Lodge; watch the show on DVD, it’s too complex to go into, now), and the dead girl’s spirit vowing that “I’ll see you again in 25 years.”

His Anticipated Return

Now, 25 years on, that promise is to be fulfilled. In 2016, Showtime will be bringing us a sequel to the cult series. The network says that nine new “Twin Peaks” episodes – set in the present day – are going into production soon. And Kyle MacLachlan is set to return, as Dale Cooper – as are several other characters from the original 1990s run.

Showtime’s president, David Nevins, has even persuaded David Lynch to direct all nine episodes.

Fans will no doubt be hoping that the sequel will answer the questions left hanging at the end of season two in 1991. Nevins is keeping quiet on this.

Only time will tell.

Keep watching this space.



Frank Black is the central figure of “Millennium”, a television series created by “X-Files” originator Chris Carter. In the show, Frank Black is played by actor Lance Henriksen.

Black follows in the tradition started by novelist Thomas Harris, in creating the character of Will Graham, for “Red Dragon”:
That of the FBI profiler as eideteker (eidetektive? Hmm. Good word; think I’ll use it again).

Someone who can literally put themselves in the mind of a killer. See what they might see, feel what they might feel.

In Frank Black’s case, it is never fully clear whether this ability is a psychological projection of extreme empathy, or a genetic / psychic trait. The fact that Frank’s daughter, Jordan inherits the skill would seem to suggest the latter.

A bit of the character’s history, from a YouTube compilation, “The Curse of Frank Black”:

Whatever the case, it’s a dark and dangerous gift. One that takes a heavy toll on the person who possesses it.

A Heavy Toll

The legacy of Frank Black’s eidetic gift is emotional instability, and retirement from duty as a profiler for the FBI.

Frank relocates to Seattle, Washington, together with his wife Catherine (actress Megan Gallagher) and daughter Jordan (actress Brittany Tiplady). There, he overcompensates for the darkness in his soul by moving into a model suburban house, which he paints bright yellow.

Black immerses himself in domestic life, hoping to escape his past.

Fat chance.

Apocalypse, Then…

“Millennium” is set in the latter years of the 1990s. As the year 2000 approaches, several crackpot individuals and groups emerge, looking to commemorate the event in various grisly and / or apocalyptic ways.

As the death toll mounts, Frank is approached by the Millennium Group, an association of mainly ex-FBI agents (including Terry O’Quinn as Black’s former colleague Peter Watts) who have chosen to monitor the activities of these killers – and to intervene, when necessary. Black is hired as a consultant to the group.

Thrown back into the heat of active investigations, and forced to use his heightened perception again, Frank feels the strain on his health and home life.

A Hidden Agenda

Things go from bad to worse, when it emerges that the Millennium Group exists merely to prevent the coming of any Apocalypse other than the one of its own design.

Frank’s discovery of this has tragic consequences. His running battle with the group eventually forces Black and his daughter to become fugitives, from the law.

Evolution of the Show

“Millennium” ran for three seasons on the Fox Television Network, from 1996.

Fox executives initially lobbied to cast William Hurt as Frank Black, but the actor was unwilling to commit to a role in a television series. Creator Chris Carter (who wrote the show with Henriksen in mind) sent a copy of his script for the “Pilot” episode to Lance Henriksen, and the rest is history.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the series intro, with that haunting theme tune:

The first season dealt mainly with Black pursuing various serial killers and other murderers, with only occasional references to the Millennium Group’s true purpose.

The second season introduced more supernatural elements, with Frank coming into conflict with forces that often appeared to be apocalyptic or demonic in nature. Humor (along the lines of that seen in “The X-Files”) was injected into some of the storylines, to relieve what was felt to be an oppressive aura of gloom and gore from the show’s first season.

The final season had Frank returning to Washington, D.C., to work with the FBI following the death of his wife at the hands of the Millennium Group. He was joined by a new partner, Emma Hollis (actress Klea Scott) who joined the Group – despite Frank’s warnings and her own observations.

At the time of the show’s cancellation, Frank is seen escaping from Washington, having taken Jordan out of school, the Millennium Group in hot pursuit.

Frank Black returned in “The X-Files” season seven episode “Millennium”, a cross-over that effectively served as a series finale for “Millennium”. Though unresolved, the story ended on an optimistic note, with the suggestion of some kind of normal life being possible for Frank and Jordan.

A Bright Future?

To be confirmed.

With the release of “Millennium” on DVD, Lance Henriksen proposed a continuation of the series.

Henriksen has since gone on to support the Back to Frank Black campaign, a movement dedicated to the return of the character.

Creator Chris Carter has joined Henriksen in expressing interest in a film based on “Millennium”, though Fox has expressed no enthusiasm for such a project.

Which is a shame, as it could tie up some of those loose ends.

In comparison to the other eidetektives out there (See? Told you I’d use the word again) – your “Profiler”, “Mentalist”, or whoever – Frank Black is one of the more memorable.

And “Millennium”?

Worth checking out. It’s not cozy fun, by any means, but it is riveting.

I’m out, at this point.

I’ll see you, when I see you. If not, before.



BAU is an abbreviation for Behavioral Analysis Unit, a department of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC).

The BAU and NCAVC provide behavioral based investigative and/or operational support to the investigation of complex and time-sensitive crimes, typically involving acts or threats of violence.

These are the people most famously known for profiling and catching serial killers, arsonists, kidnappers, and certain brands of terrorist.

BAU Operations

The BAU receives requests for “criminal investigative analysis” from federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies.

Criminal investigative analysis involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interacting with the victims, as exhibited during the commission of a crime, or as displayed in a crime scene.

BAU staff conduct detailed analyses of crimes for the purpose of providing one or more of the following services:

* crime analysis,
* investigative suggestions,
* profiles of unknown offenders,
* threat analysis,
* critical incident analysis,
* interview strategies,
* major case management,
* search warrant assistance,
* prosecutive and trial strategies, and
* expert testimony

Recently, the BAU released “The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective” report to guide school administrators, teachers, parents, and law enforcement in identifying and evaluating threats in schools.

The BAU also keeps a reference file for experts in various forensic disciplines such as odontology, anthropology, entomology, or pathology.

Real Life…

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such position in the FBI as a “profiler”.

…and Reel Life

The BAU (known in those days as the Behavioral Science Unit) plays a prominent role in the novels of Thomas Harris, notably “Red Dragon”, and “The Silence of the Lambs”. Both books became movies.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for “The Silence of the Lambs”, setting the scene for BAU Section Chief Jack Crawford (played by Scott Glenn) to give FBI trainee agent Clarice Starling (actress Jodie Foster) her mandate to interview the notorious serial killer Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (the Oscar-winning Sir Anthony Hopkins):

Criminal Minds

The BAU is at the center of the CBS weekly drama series “Criminal Minds” and its spin-off, “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”

Unlike many police procedurals, rather than focus on the crime itself, “Criminal Minds” concentrates on profiling the criminal – called the “unsub” or “unknown subject”.

The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia.

Principal characters in the show include:

Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner (played by Thomas Gibson):
Unit Chief of the BAU team. A former prosecutor, and one of the most experienced agents in the BAU. In season five, his estranged wife Haley Brooks (Meredith Monroe) is murdered by fugitive serial killer George Foyet (C. Thomas Howell), also known as “The Reaper”, and Hotch is given sole custody of his son Jack.

Derek Morgan (actor Shemar Moore):
Supervisory Special Agent (SSA), and a confident, assertive, often hot-tempered character. Derek was a troubled Chicago youth headed for juvenile delinquency, until he was rescued and mentored by Carl Buford (actor Julius Tennon). Buford turned out to be a sexual predator who molested Derek and other young boys – an experience that colors Morgan’s dealings within the BAU. He has a special relationship with Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, and the two have a unique banter and mutual understanding.

Dr. Spencer Reid (played by Matthew Gray Gubler):
Supervisory Special Agent and boy genius who graduated from Las Vegas High School at age 12, and holds PhDs in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering, as well as BAs in Psychology and Sociology. As of season four, he is also working on a BA in Philosophy. Dr. Reid (his preferred title; it deflects judgments about his age) has an IQ of 187, can read 20,000 words per minute, and has an eidetic memory.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the good doctor, in full flow:

Understandably, most of the members on the team are intimidated by his profound knowledge.

Jason Gideon (played by Mandy Patinkin):
A Senior Supervisory Special Agent widely known as the BAU’s best profiler. Gideon was the team’s acting sage, in the initial seasons of the show. After a series of emotionally troubling cases, and the murder of his friend Sarah by fugitive serial killer Frank Breitkopf (Keith Carradine), he heads off into the Nevada sunset, destination unknown.

David Rossi (actor Joe Mantegna):
Senior Supervisory Special Agent, who worked in the BAU at its origins, then took early retirement to write books and lecture on criminal analysis. Rossi volunteered to return shortly after Senior SSA Jason Gideon’s departure, and fill the perceived “experience gap”.

Jennifer “JJ” Jareau (played by A. J. Cook):
Supervisory Special Agent. In seasons one through five, she served as the team’s Communications Liaison to local police agencies. Forced to accept a promotion at the Pentagon in season six, “JJ” later returned to the unit, becoming a legitimate profiler (whatever that is; see above) in season seven. Jennifer is also the only human being on the planet who calls Dr. Reid, “Spence”.

Elle Greenaway (actress Lola Glaudini):
A Supervisory Special Agent, assigned to the BAU as an expert in sexual offense cases. Elle suffers severe emotional trauma after being shot by an unsub in season one. In season two, while alone on a stakeout for a suspected serial rapist, she shoots the man in cold blood. Despite her colleagues’ doubts, the local police deem it self-defense. Elle later resigns from the BAU, with the declaration that this is “not an admission of guilt.”

Emily Prentiss (played by Paget Brewster):
Supervisory Special Agent, and daughter of Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss (Kate Jackson). After SSA Elle Greenaway leaves the BAU, Emily shows up with papers assigning her to the BAU, as a replacement. Emily is fluent in several languages – a legacy of her upbringing, and her professional past as an agent of Interpol.

Penelope Garcia (actress Kirsten Vangsness):
The team’s Technical Analyst. She joined the BAU after bringing attention to herself by hacking the FBI database; she was offered a job in lieu of a jail sentence. She usually supports the team from her computer lab at Quantico, but occasionally joins them on location when her skills can be used in the field. She enjoys a flirtatious relationship with SSA Derek Morgan, often engaging in comical banter of a sexually suggestive nature (usually over open channels), when he calls in for information. When SSA Jennifer Jareau leaves the BAU, Penelope takes over her job as Communications Liaison. She maintains this role after “JJ” qualifies as a profiler, and joins the rest of the team in the field.

Dr. Alex Blake (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn):
An FBI Linguistics Expert and professor at Georgetown University who joins the BAU after SSA Emily Prentiss transfers to the Interpol office in London.

“Criminal Minds” premiered September 22, 2005, on CBS. On May 9, 2013, CBS renewed Criminal Minds for a ninth season.
The show is produced by The Mark Gordon Company in association with CBS Television Studios, and ABC Studios.

And it’s well worth a look.

Speaking of which here’s the BAU team at work, courtesy of YouTube:

That’s it, for this one.

Hope you’ll join me, for the next.

Till then.



Mara Salvatrucha (commonly known as MS, Mara, and MS-13) is a transnational criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles and has spread to other parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. The majority of the gang is ethnically composed of Central Americans.

In the U.S., the MS-13 has an especially heavy presence in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California; the Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas of Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Prince George’s County, Maryland; Long Island, New York; the Boston, Massachusetts area; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Houston, Texas. There is also a presence of MS-13 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Members of MS distinguish themselves by tattoos covering the body and also often the face, as well as the use of their own sign language.

They are notorious for their use of violence, and a moral subculture that predominantly consists of merciless revenge and cruel retribution.

Their wide-ranging activities have drawn the attention of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who have initiated raids against known and suspected gang members – netting hundreds of arrests across the country.

Principal characters of the feature film “Sin Nombre” (2009) are members of MS in Chiapas, Mexico, and many of the traditions and practices of MS are depicted accurately (killings, tattoos, initiation, exploitation of migrants, etc.).

Video comes courtesy of YouTube:

That’s a slice of reel life.

Here’s the history:


The Mara Salvatrucha gang originated in Los Angeles, having its roots in El Salvador.

It was set up in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants in the city’s Pico-Union neighborhood who emigrated to the United States after the Central American civil wars of the 1980s.

Originally, the gang’s main purpose was to protect Salvadoran immigrants from other, more established gangs of Los Angeles, which were predominantly composed of Mexicans and African-Americans.

Some sources state the gang is named for La Mara, a street gang in San Salvador, and the Salvatrucha guerrillas who fought in the Salvadoran Civil War. Additionally, the word “mara” means gang in Caliche slang and is taken from marabunta, the name of a fierce type of ant.

“Salvatrucha” may be a combination of the words Salvadoran and “trucha”, a Caliche word for being alert. The term, “Salvatruchas” has been explained as a reference to Salvadoran peasants trained to become guerrilla fighters, referred to as the “Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.”

Gang Markings and Hand Signs

Many Mara Salvatrucha members cover themselves in tattoos. Common markings include “MS”, “Salvatrucha”, the “Devil Horns”, the name of their clique, and other symbols. A December 2007 CNN internet news article stated that the gang was moving away from the tattoos in an attempt to commit crimes without being noticed.

Members of Mara Salvatrucha (like members of most modern American gangs) utilize a system of hand signs for purposes of identification and communication. One of the most commonly displayed is the “devil’s head” which forms an ‘M’ when displayed upside down. This hand sign is similar to the symbol commonly seen displayed by heavy metal musicians and their fans. Founders of Mara Salvatrucha allegedly borrowed the hand sign after attending concerts of heavy metal bands.


Many Mara Salvatrucha gang members from the Los Angeles area have been deported after being arrested. Jose Abrego, a high-ranking member, was deported four times.

As a result of these deportations, members of MS have recruited more members in their home countries.

According to the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, “The gang is estimated to have 30,000 to 50,000 members and associate members worldwide, 8,000 to 10,000 of whom reside in the United States.”

In recent years the gang has expanded into the Washington, D.C. area. In particular, the areas of Langley Park and Takoma Park, Maryland, near the Washington border, have become centers of MS gang activity.


In 2004, the US FBI started the MS-13 National Gang Task Force. The FBI also began teaming with law enforcement in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

In 2005, the FBI helped create a National Gang Information Center and outlined a National Gang Strategy for Congress.

Also in 2005, the office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement started Operation Community Shield. By 2011, this operation had made over 20,000 arrests, including more than 3,000 arrests of alleged MS-13 members.

Illegal Immigration and People Smuggling

According to The Washington Times, MS “is thought to have established a major smuggling center” in Mexico. There were reports by the Minuteman Project that MS members were ordered to Arizona to target U.S. Border Patrol agents and Minuteman Project volunteers.

In 2005, Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez and the President of El Salvador raised alarm by claiming that Muslim terrorist organization Al-Qaeda was meeting with Mara Salvatrucha and other Central American gangs to help them infiltrate the United States. FBI agents said that the U.S. intelligence community and governments of several Central American countries found there is no basis to believe that MS is connected to Al-Qaeda or other Islamic radicals, although Alvarez did visit Central America to discuss the issue.

On the southern border of Mexico, the gang has also unleashed violence against migrants.

Child Prostitution

In 2011, Alonso “Casper” Bruno Cornejo Ormeno, an associate of MS-13 from Fairfax, Virginia was sentenced to 292 months in prison for child prostitution. Ormeno recruited juvenile females into a prostitution ring by locating runaway children.

In June 2012, Rances Ulices Amaya of Springfield (a leader of MS-13) was sentenced to 50 years in prison for child prostitution. He was convicted in February 2012 for trafficking girls as young as 14 into a prostitution ring. They were lured from middle schools, high schools, and public shelters.

In September 2012, Yimmy Anthony Pineda Penado (also known as “Critico” and “Spike”) of Maryland, a former “clique leader” of MS-13, became the 11th MS-13 gang member to be convicted of child prostitution since 2011.

A Catalog of Crimes

On July 13, 2003, Brenda Paz, a 17-year-old former MS member turned informant, was found stabbed on the banks of the Shenandoah River in Virginia. Paz was killed for telling the FBI about Mara Salvatrucha’s criminal activities. Two of her former friends were later convicted of the murder.

On December 23, 2004, one of the most widely publicized MS crimes in Central America occurred in Chamelecón, Honduras when an intercity bus was intercepted and sprayed with automatic gunfire, killing 28 civilian passengers, most of whom were women and children.

MS organized the massacre as a protest against the Honduran government’s proposing a restoration of the death penalty in Honduras.

Six gunmen raked the bus with gunfire. As passengers screamed and ducked, another gunman climbed aboard and methodically executed passengers.

In February 2007, Juan Carlos Miranda Bueso and Darwin Alexis Ramírez were found guilty of several crimes, including murder and attempted murder. Ebert Anibal Rivera was also held over the attack, and was arrested after fleeing to Texas. Juan Bautista Jimenez, accused of masterminding the massacre, was killed in prison. According to the authorities, fellow MS-13 inmates hanged him. There was insufficient evidence to convict Óscar Fernando Mendoza and Wilson Geovany Gómez.

On May 13, 2006, Ernesto “Smokey” Miranda, a former high-ranking soldier and one of the founders of Mara Salvatrucha, was murdered at his home in El Salvador a few hours after declining to attend a party for a gang member who had just been released from prison. He had been studying law and working to keep children out of gangs.

In 2007, Julio Chavez allegedly murdered a man because he was wearing a red sweatshirt and was mistaken for a member of the Bloods gang.

On June 4, 2008, in Toronto, Ontario, police executed 22 search warrants, made 17 arrests and laid 63 charges following a five-month investigation.

On June 22, 2008, in San Francisco, California, a 21-year-old MS gang member, Edwin Ramos, shot and killed a father, Anthony Bologna, 48, and his two sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, after their car briefly blocked Ramos from completing a left turn down a narrow street as they were returning home from a family barbecue.

On November 26, 2008, Jonathan Retana was convicted of the murder of Miguel Angel Deras, which the authorities linked to an MS initiation.

Fighting The Law

In 2008, the MS task force coordinated a series of arrests and crackdowns in the U.S. and Central America that involved more than 6,000 police officers in five countries. Seventy-three suspects were arrested in the U.S. In all, more than 650 suspects were taken into custody.

In February 2009, authorities in Colorado and California arrested 20 members of MS, and seized 10 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.3 kilograms (5 pounds) of cocaine, a small amount of heroin, 12 firearms and $3,300 in cash.

On November 4, 2009, El Salvadoran leaders of the MS-13 gang allegedly put out a contract on the federal agent responsible for a crackdown on its New York factions. The plot to assassinate the unidentified Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent was revealed in an arrest warrant for reputed gang member Walter (Duke) Torres.

Torres tipped authorities to the plan after he and four MS-13 members were stopped by NYPD detectives for hassling passersby on Northern Boulevard in Queens, New York. He was debriefed on October 22 at Rikers Island, where he was being held on a warrant issued in Virginia, according to court papers.

Torres said “the order for the murder came from gang leadership in El Salvador,” ICE agent Sean Sweeney wrote in an affidavit for a new warrant charging Torres with conspiracy.

Torres said he traveled to New York in August “for the specific purpose of participating in the planning and execution of the murder plot,” Sweeney wrote.

Gang members were trying to get their hands on a high-powered assault rifle, like an M-16, to penetrate the agent’s bulletproof vest.

Another MS-13 informant told authorities the agent was marked for death because the gang was “exceedingly angry” at him for arresting many members in the past three years, the affidavit states.

Federal prosecutors have indicted numerous MS-13 gang members on racketeering, extortion, prostitution, kidnapping, illegal immigration, money laundering, murder, people smuggling, arms trafficking, human trafficking and drug trafficking charges. The targeted special agent was the lead federal investigator on many of these federal cases.

Charlotte, North Carolina

In the early 2000s, US authorities investigated MS-13 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eventually the work led to charges against 26 MS-13 members, including 7 trial convictions in January 2010, 18 guilty pleas, and 11 multi-year prison sentences.

Among these was the alleged first federal death-penalty conviction for an MS-13 member, Alejandro Enrique Ramirez Umaña, a.k.a. “Wizard” (age 25).

The Umaña Case

On July 27 2005, in Los Angeles, Umaña allegedly murdered Jose Herrera and Gustavo Porras and participated in the killing of Andy Abarca (September 28). He later came to Charlotte, North Carolina, according to witnesses, as a veteran member of MS-13, to reorganize the Charlotte cell of the gang.

According to witnesses at his later trial, on December 8, 2007, Umaña shot Ruben Garcia Salinas fatally in the chest and Manuel Garcia Salinas in the head, while in the Las Jarochitas, a family-run restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Witnesses testified that the shootings took place after the Garcia Salinas brothers had “disrespected” Umaña’s gang signs by calling them “fake”.

Firing three more shots in the restaurant (according to trial testimony), Umaña injured another individual with his gunfire.

Trial testimony and evidence showed that Umaña later fled back to Charlotte with MS-13 assistance. Umaña was arrested five days after that, in possession of the murder weapon. Additional evidence and testimony from the trial revealed that while Umaña was incarcerated awaiting trial he coordinated attempts to kill witnesses and informants.

Umaña was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 23, 2008.

During trial, he attempted to bring a knife with him to the courtroom, which was discovered by U.S. Marshals before Umaña was transported to the courthouse.

The murder was investigated by the Charlotte Safe Streets Task Force.

The court case was prosecuted by Chief Criminal Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, and Trial Attorney Sam Nazzaro from the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Don Gast and Adam Morris of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina were also members of the government’s trial team.

Charges included:

Murder in aid of the racketeering enterprise known as MS-13, two counts
Murder resulting from the use of a gun in a violent crime, two counts
Conspiracy to participate in racketeering
Witness tampering or intimidation, two counts
Possession of a firearm by an illegal alien

On April 19, 2010, The jury convicted Umaña of all charges, and additionally found him responsible for the 2005 murders during the sentencing phase.

On April 28, a 12-person federal jury in Charlotte voted unanimously to impose the death penalty.

On July 27, 2010, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr., of Charlotte, NC, formally imposed the federal death penalty sentence.

The case was automatically appealed under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

And the war goes on.

I have to be going, at this point.

Hope to see you, for our next story.

Till then.



The Russian Mafia (Russkaya Mafiya) is a term used to refer to the collective of various organized crime syndicates originating in the former Soviet Union. Most of the individual groups share similar goals and organizational structures that define them as part of a loose overall association.

They are also referred to as Bratva (Russian: “brotherhood”), Organizatsiya (Russian: “the organization”), or the Red Mafia (Russian: Krasnaya Mafiya).

After World War II, the death of Joseph Stalin, and the fall of the Soviet Union, gangs emerged in a flourishing black market, exploiting the unstable governments of the former Republics, and at their highest point, even controlling as much as two-thirds of the Russian economy.

In modern times, there are as many as 6,000 different groups, with more than 200 of them having a global reach.

However, the very existence of such groups has been the subject of some debate.

They naturally provide great fodder for the movies.

The 1994 film “Little Odessa”, featuring Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Moira Kelly and Vanessa Redgrave, centers on the activities of the Russian Mafia in Brighton Beach, New York.

Video comes courtesy of YouTube:

That’s Hollywood.

Here’s some history:


The Russian Mafia – in the form of banditry and thievery – can be traced back to Russia’s imperial period, which began in the 1700s. Most of the population were poor peasants at the time, and criminals who stole from government entities and divided profits among the people earned Robin Hood-like status, being viewed as protectors, and folk heroes.

In time, the Vorovski Mir (Thieves’ World) emerged, as these criminals grouped together and started their own code of conduct that was based on strict loyalty to one another and opposition to the government.

When the Bolshevik Revolution occurred in 1917, the Thieves’ World was fully active. Vladimir Lenin attempted to wipe them out after being robbed by a gang of highwaymen, but the criminals survived into Joseph Stalin’s reign.

The Soviet Era

When Stalin seized power after the death of Lenin, he sought to crush the Thieves’ World, ordering the execution of thousands of criminals, and also his political opponents.

Millions of others were sent to gulags (Soviet labor camps), where powerful criminals worked their way up to become vory v zakone (“thieves-in-law”). These criminal elite often displayed their status through complicated tattoos – a practice that survives today, among Russian mobsters.

World War II

After Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, Stalin was desperate for more men to fight for the nation, offering prisoners freedom if they joined the army.

Many flocked to help out in the war, but this act betrayed the code of the Thieves’ World that one must not ally oneself with the government.

When the war was over, Stalin sent the released criminals back to prison.

The Bitch Wars

Those who had refused to fight in the war referred to the traitors as suki (“bitch”), and these outcasts landed at the bottom of the criminal hierarchy.

The suki separated from the others and formed their own groups and power bases by collaborating with prison officials, eventually gaining the luxury of comfortable positions.

Bitterness between the groups erupted in a series of Bitch Wars from 1945 to 1953, with many killed every day. Prison officials encouraged the violence, seeing it as a way to rid the prisons of criminals.

Post-Stalin Era

After the death of Stalin, around eight million inmates were released from the gulags.

Those that survived the imprisonment and Bitch Wars became a new breed of criminal, no longer bound to the laws of the old Thieves’ World. They adopted an “every-man-for-himself” attitude that meant cooperating with the government if necessary.

As corruption spread throughout the Soviet government, the criminal underworld began to flourish.

This corruption was most common during the Brezhnev era, and the nomenklatura (the power elite of the country; usually corrupt officials) ran the country – allegedly with criminal bosses.

In the 1970s, small illegal businesses sprang up throughout the country (with the government ignoring them), and the black market thrived.

In the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev loosened up restrictions on private businesses, allowing them to grow legally. But by then, the Soviet Union was already beginning to collapse.

The Land of Opportunity

During the 1970s and 1980s, America relaxed its immigration policies, allowing Soviet Jews and criminals to enter the country, with most settling in a southern Brooklyn area known as Brighton Beach (sometimes nicknamed “Little Odessa”).

The neighborhood became an incubator for Russian organized crime in America.

The earliest known case of Russian crime in the area was in the mid-1970s, when the “Potato Bag Gang” – a group of con artists disguised as merchants – told customers that they were selling antique gold rubles on the cheap. In fact, they gave them bags of potatoes, bought in thousands.

By 1983, the head of Russian organized crime in Brighton Beach was Evsei Agron.

He was a prime target for other mobsters, including rival Boris Goldberg and his organization, and in May 1985, Agron was assassinated.

Boris “Biba” Nayfeld, his bodyguard, moved on to work under Marat Balagula, who was believed to have inherited Agron’s authority.

The following year, Balagula fled the country after he was convicted in a fraud scheme of Merrill Lynch customers, and was found in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1989. From there, he was extradited back to the US and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Balagula would later be convicted on a separate $360,000 credit card fraud in 1992.

Nayfeld took Balagula’s place, partnering with the “Polish Al Capone”, Ricardo Fanchiniin, in an import-export business, and setting up a heroin trade.

In 1990, Nayfeld’s former friend, Monya Elson (back from a six-year prison sentence in Israel) returned to America and set up a rival heroin business, culminating in a Mafia turf war.

The Ivankov Era

When the USSR collapsed and a free market economy emerged, gangster summit meetings had taken place in hotels and restaurants shortly before the Soviet’s dissolution, so that top vory v zakone could agree on who would rule what, and set plans on how to take over the post-Communist state.

It was agreed that Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov would be sent to Brighton Beach in 1992 to take control of Russian organized crime in North America – allegedly because he was killing too many people in Russia.

Within a year, he built an international operation that included, but was not limited to, narcotics, money laundering, and prostitution, and had made ties with the American Mafia and Colombian drug cartels, eventually extending to Miami, Los Angeles, and Boston.

Those who went against him were usually killed.

In one instance, Ivankov attempted to buy out Georgian boss Valeri “Globus” Glugech’s drug importation business. When the latter refused the offer, he and his top associates were shot dead.

Ivankov’s arrival virtually ended the feud between Elson and Nayfeld.

Nayfeld and Elson were eventually arrested in January 1994, and in Italy in 1995, respectively.

Ivankov’s own reign ended in June 1995, when a $3.5 million attempt to extort two Russian businessmen (Alexander Volkov and Vladimir Voloshin) ended in an FBI arrest that resulted in a ten-year maximum security prison sentence.

Hands Across the Water

The worldwide extent of Russian organized crime wasn’t realized until Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg was arrested in January 1997, primarily due to global arms dealing.

In 1990, Fainberg had moved from Brighton Beach to Miami and opened up a strip club called Porky’s, which soon became a popular hangout for underworld criminals.

Fainberg himself gained a reputation as an ambassador to international crime groups, becoming especially close to Juan Almeida, a Colombian cocaine dealer.

Planning to expand his cocaine business, Fainberg acted as an intermediary between Almeida and the corrupt Russian military. He helped him get six Russian military helicopters in 1993, and the following year, helped arrange to buy a submarine for cocaine smuggling.

However, federal agents had been keeping a close eye on Fainberg for months.

Alexander Yasevich – an associate of the Russian military contact and an undercover DEA agent – was sent to verify the illegal deal, and in 1997, Fainberg was arrested in Miami.

Facing the possibility of life imprisonment, Fainberg agreed to testify against Almeida in exchange for a shorter sentence – which ended up being 33 months.

2001 – Present

As the 21st century dawned, new Russian Mafia bosses sprung up, while imprisoned ones were released.

Among those released were Pachovich Sloat, Marat Balagula and Vyacheslav Ivankov (the latter two in 2004).

Ivankov was extradited to Russia, but jailed once more for his alleged murders of two Turks in a Moscow restaurant in 1992; he was cleared of all charges and released in 2005. Four years later, he was assassinated by a shot in the stomach from a sniper.

Meanwhile, Monya Elson, along with Leonid Roytman, was arrested in March 2006 for an unsuccessful murder plot against two Kiev-based businessmen.

In 2009, FBI agents in Moscow targeted two suspected Mafia leaders and two other corrupt businessmen. One of the leaders was Yevgeny Dvoskin, a criminal who had been in prison with Ivankov in 1995, and was deported in 2001 for breaking immigration regulations.

The other was Konstantin “Gizya” Ginzburg, who is reportedly the current “big boss” of Russian organized crime in America (it was suspected that Ivankov handed over his control to him).

In the same year, Semion Mogilevich was placed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for his involvement in a complex multi-million dollar scheme that defrauded investors in the stock of his company YBM Magnex International, swindling them out of $150 million.

He was indicted in 2003 and arrested in 2008 in Russia on tax fraud charges, but because the US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, he was released on bail.

Russian organized crime was reported to have a stronger grip in the French Riviera region and Spain in 2010, and Russia was branded as a virtual “Mafia state” according to the WikiLeaks cables. The Jewish branch of the Russian Mafia has created tremendous problems for the Israeli government.

As of 2009, Russian Mafia groups have been said to reach over 50 countries and, as of 2010, have up to 300,000 members.

Business is booming.

That’s it, for this one.

I hope you’ll join me, for our next tale.

Till then.


Gangsters: Carlo Gambino


Carlo Gambino (August 24, 1902 – October 15, 1976) was a Sicilian mobster, notable for being Boss of the Gambino crime family, which is still named after him.

After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia.

He lived to the age of 74, and died of a heart attack in bed, “In a state of grace” (according to a priest who had given him the Last Rites of the Catholic Church), having never spent a day in prison.

In the 1996 TV film “Gotti”, Carlo Gambino is played by Marc Lawrence.

Video comes courtesy of YouTube:

That’s the Hollywood version.

Here’s the history:

Gambino’s Early Life

Carlo Gambino was born in the town of Caccamo, near the city of Palermo, Sicily. He was born to a family that belonged to the Honored Society.

The Honored Society was slightly more complicated than the Black Hand of America, which was often confused with the American Mafia. The Black Hand – much like the pre-1920s Mafia – was a highly disorganized version of the real European Mafia.

When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini chased a large number of real Mafiosi out of Italy, Italian-Americans such as Gambino benefited from the new, better-organized Mafia.

The young Gambino began carrying out murder orders for new Mob bosses in his teens.

In 1921, at the age of 19, he became a “made man” and was inducted into La Cosa Nostra.


Gambino entered the United States as an illegal immigrant on a shipping boat. He ate nothing but anchovies and wine during the month long trip, and joined his cousins, the Castellanos, in New York City. There he joined a crime family headed by Salvatore “Totò” D’Aquila – one of the larger crime families in the city. Gambino’s uncle, Giuseppe Castellano, also joined the D’Aquila family around this time.

Gangland Links

Gambino also became involved with the “Young Turks”, a group of Americanized Italian and Jewish mobsters in New York which included Frank “Prime Minister” Costello, Albert “The Executioner” Anastasia, Frank Scalice, Settimo Accardi, Gaetano “Tommy Three-Finger Brown” Lucchese, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Mickey Cohen, and Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

They all became involved in robbery, thefts, and illegal gambling.

With their new partner, Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein, they turned to bootlegging during Prohibition in the early 1920s.

Gambino also made a sizable profit during World War II, by bribing Office of Price Administration (OPA) officials for ration stamps, which he then sold on the black market.

The Castellammarese War

By 1926, Luciano’s immediate superior, Giuseppe “Joe the Boss” Masseria was coming into conflict with Salvatore Maranzano, a recent arrival from Palermo who was born in Castellammare del Golfo.

When Maranzano arrived in New York in 1925, his access to money and manpower led him to become involved in extortion and gambling operations that directly competed with Masseria.

On October 10, 1928, Joe Masseria eliminated D’Aquila, his top rival for the coveted title of “Boss of Bosses” (Capo di Tutti Capi). However, Masseria still had to deal with the powerful and influential Maranzano and his Castellammarese Clan.

Gambino was thrown directly into the line of fire.

Masseria demanded absolute loyalty and obedience from other criminals in his area, and killed anyone who gave him anything less.

In 1930, Masseria demanded a $10,000 tribute from Maranzano’s then boss, Nicola “Cola” Schiro, and supposedly got it. Schiro fled New York in fear, leaving Maranzano as the new leader.

By 1931, a series of killings in New York involving Castellammarese clan members and associates caused Maranzano and his family to declare war against Joe Masseria and his allies.

D’Aquila’s family, now headed by Alfred Mineo, sided with Masseria. In addition to Gambino, other prominent members of this family included Luciano associates Albert “The Mad Executioner” Anastasia, and Frank Scalice.

The Castellammarese clan included Joseph “Joe Bananas” Bonanno and Stefano Magaddino, the Profaci crime family, which included Joseph Profaci and Joseph Magliocco, and former Masseria allies the Riena family, which included Gaetano “Tom” Reina, Gaetano “Tommy” Gagliano, and Gaetano “Tommy Three-Finger Brown” Lucchese.

The War raged on between the Masseria and Maranzano factions for almost four years.

Bad for Business

This inter-gang war devastated the Prohibition-era operations and street rackets that the five New York families controlled in parallel with the Irish and Jewish crime groups. The war cut into their profits, and in some cases completely destroyed the underworld rackets of crime family members.

Several Young Turks on both sides started realizing that if the war did not stop soon, the Italian crime families would be left on the fringe of New York’s criminal underworld, while the Jewish and Irish crime bosses became dominant.

Additionally, they felt that Masseria, Maranzano and other old-school Mafiosi (whom they derisively called “Mustache Petes”) were too greedy to see the riches that could be had by working with non-Italians.

With this in mind, Gambino and the other Young Turks decided to end the Castellammarese War and form a national syndicate.

On April 15, 1931, Masseria was gunned down at Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant in Coney Island by Luciano associates Anastasia, Adonis, Genovese, and Siegel. Maranzano then named himself capo di tutti capi (boss of bosses).

In the major reorganization of the New York Mafia that followed, Vincent Mangano took over the Mineo family, with Anastasia as his underboss and Gambino as a capo. They kept these posts after Maranzano was fatally stabbed and shot on September 10, 1931.

The Commission

In 1931, Luciano created The Commission, which was supposed to avoid big conflicts like the Castellammarese War. The charter members were Luciano, Joe Bonanno, Joe Profaci, Tommy Gagliano and Mangano.

Gambino married his first cousin, Catherine Castellano, in 1932, at age 30. They raised three sons and a daughter.

Gambino became a major earner in the Mangano family. His activities included loansharking, illegal gambling and extorting protection money from area merchants.

Despite this, Gambino lived in a modest, well-kept row house in Brooklyn. The only real evidence of vanity was the license plate on his Buick, CG1.

The Manganos

Mangano was displeased with Anastasia’s friendship with Luciano and Frank Costello, especially since they frequently used Anastasia’s services without Mangano’s permission.

Anastasia had been, since the 1930s, the operating head (“Lord High Executioner”) of the syndicate’s most notorious death squad, Murder, Inc., which was allegedly responsible for some 1,000 murders.

Mangano and his brother, Phil, supposedly confronted Anastasia several times, in front of Gambino. Eventually, Anastasia stopped asking permission for “every little thing” – further angering the Manganos.

On April 19, 1951, Philip Mangano was found murdered.

Vincent Mangano himself vanished the very same day, and was never found.

It is widely presumed that Anastasia killed them both.

Though Anastasia never admitted to having a hand in the killings, he managed to convince the heads of the other families that Vincent Mangano had been plotting to have him killed – a claim backed up by Frank Costello, the acting boss of the Luciano crime family.

Anastasia was named the new boss of the family, with Gambino as his underboss. Shortly afterward, Gambino’s cousin and brother-in-law, Paul “Big Paul” Castellano (Giuseppe’s son), took over as capo of Gambino’s old crew.

Gambino was now one of the most powerful mobsters in the business, making profits from extortion, illegal gambling, hijacking, bootlegging, and murder.


Anastasia’s violent ways could be contained so long as Luciano and Frank Costello acted as a moderating influence, but certain mobsters (most notably Vito Genovese) doubted whether this could go on, forever.

These doubts resurfaced in 1952, when Anastasia ordered the murder of a young Brooklyn tailor’s assistant named Arnold Schuster, after watching Schuster speaking on television about his role as primary witness in fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton’s arrest.

In killing Schuster, Anastasia had violated a cardinal Mafia rule against killing outsiders.

As Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel once quaintly put it, “We only kill each other.”

The murder brought unnecessary public scrutiny of Mafia business.

Luciano and Costello were horrified, but could not take action against Anastasia, since Genovese was angling to take over the Luciano family as well – and they needed Anastasia to counter Genovese’s growing ambition and power.

Genovese knew this as well, and in early 1957 convinced Gambino to side with him against Anastasia, Costello and Luciano.

On Genovese’s advice, Gambino told Anastasia that they were not making enough money from the casinos in Cuba, which belonged to Meyer Lansky.

When Anastasia confronted Lansky, he was furious, and seemingly threw his support to the Genovese-Gambino alliance.

Shortly thereafter, Genovese moved against Costello by hiring Vincent “Chin” Gigante to assassinate him. The attempt failed, but it frightened Costello enough to ask the Commission for permission to retire – which they granted.


Genovese took over the family, and renamed it the Genovese crime family.

With Costello out of the way, Genovese then moved against Anastasia.

At the time, Gambino was worried that Anastasia was jealous of his wealth and influence, and would have him killed.


Gambino was convinced by Genovese to lend his support, giving the order to “Joe the Blonde” Biondo.

Biondo selected Stephen Armone, Arnold “Witty” Wittenberg, and Stephen “Stevie Coogin” Grammauta to carry out the hit. They allegedly shot Anastasia on October 25, 1957, in the barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel (now the Park Central Hotel) in New York City.

Gambino became the new boss of the Mangano crime family – which was renamed the Gambino crime family.

Apalachin: Genovese’s Fall

Genovese believed that with Costello and Anastasia out of the way, and Gambino supposedly in his debt, the way was clear for him to become Boss of Bosses.

However, Gambino had his own ideas. He secretly allied himself with Luciano, Costello and Lansky.

The alliance gained further strength after the Apalachin Conference, which was supposedly set up to formally crown Genovese as Boss of Bosses, but ended in disaster with several prominent Mafiosi being arrested.

Soon afterward, Costello, Luciano, and Lansky met face to face in Italy.

In 1959, Genovese was heading to Atlanta where a huge shipment of heroin was arriving. But when he got there, Genovese was surprised by local police, the FBI and the ATF. He was convicted for selling a large quantity of heroin and was sentenced to 15 years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Genovese would later die in prison of a heart attack, in 1969.

Boss of Bosses

From the early 1960s, Gambino expanded his rackets all over the country.

New Gambino businesses were created in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Gambino also (to regain complete control of Manhattan) took over the New York Longshoremen Union, where more than 90% of all New York City’s ports were controlled.

Money rolled in from every source, and the Gambinos became America’s most powerful crime family.

Gambino also made his own family policy: “Deal and Die.”

This was Gambino’s message to every Gambino family member.

Heroin and cocaine were highly lucrative, but dangerous – and would also attract attention. The punishment for dealing drugs, in Gambino style, was death.

The Gambino family now had at least 500 (some sources say 700 or 800) soldiers within 30 crews, making the family a $500,000,000-a-year-enterprise.

In 1962, Carlo’s eldest son Thomas Gambino married the daughter of fellow mob boss Gaetano Lucchese, the new head of the Gagliano crime family. More than 1,000 people, relatives, friends, and “friends of ours”, (amico nostro) were present during the wedding ceremony.

It has been rumored that Gambino personally gave Lucchese $30,000 as a “welcome gift” that same day.

As repayment, Lucchese cut his friend into the airport rackets that were under Lucchese control – especially at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where all unions, management, and security were controlled by Lucchese himself.

After Joe Bonanno was forced into retirement by The Commission, Vito Genovese died of a heart attack, and Tommy Lucchese died of a brain tumor, Gambino’s status and power on The Commission greatly increased.

While the Mafia had abolished the title of “boss of bosses”, Gambino’s position afforded him the powers such a title would have carried, as he was now the boss of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful crime family in the country, and head of The Commission – a position only Luciano had held before Gambino.

Profaci and the Gallos

In February 1962, the Gallo brothers kidnapped a number of prominent members of the Profaci family, including underboss Joseph Magliocco and capo Joe Colombo.

In return for their release, the brothers demanded changes in the way profits were being divided up, and at first Profaci appeared to agree. But he was simply biding his time.

Gallo crew member Joseph “Joe Jelly” Gioelli was murdered by Profaci’s men in September, and an attempt on Larry Gallo’s life was interrupted by policemen in a Brooklyn bar.

In response, the brothers set about attacking Profaci’s men wherever they saw them, as all-out war erupted between the two factions. Meanwhile, Gambino and Lucchese were putting pressure on the other bosses to convince Profaci to step down from his title and family, but on June 6, 1962, Profaci lost his battle against cancer.

He was replaced as boss of the family by Joseph Magliocco.

Conspiracy Against The Commission

With the Gallos out of the way, Joe Bonanno now hatched a plot to murder the heads of the other three families, which Magliocco decided to go along with.

The assassinations came to the knowledge of Profaci capo, Joseph Colombo, who warned Gambino about Magliocco and Bonanno’s conspiracy against the Commission.

Bonanno and Magliocco were called to face judgement.

While Bonanno went into hiding, Magliocco faced up to his crimes. Understanding that he had been following Bonanno’s lead, he was let off with a $50,000 fine, and forced to retire as the head of the family, being replaced by Joseph Colombo.

One month later, Magliocco died of high blood pressure.

But Gambino had other plans for Bonanno.

The Banana War (1962-1967)

After Magliocco’s death, Bonanno had few allies left.

Many members felt that he was too power hungry. Some members of his family also thought he spent too much time away from New York, and more in Canada and Tucson, where he had business interests.

The Commission members decided that he no longer deserved leadership over his family, and replaced him with a caporegime, Gaspar DiGregorio.

Bonanno, however, would not accept this result.

He broke the family into two groups, the one led by DiGregorio, and the other headed by Bonanno and his son, Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno. Newspapers referred to it as “The Banana Split.”

Since Bonanno refused to give up his position, the other Commission members felt it was time for drastic action.

In October 1964, Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo crime family members, Peter and Antonino Magaddino. According to Bonanno, he was held captive in upstate New York by his cousin, Stefano “Steve the Undertaker” Magaddino, who supposedly represented the Commission and Gambino.

After much talk, Bonanno was released, and the Commission members believed he would retire and relinquish his power.

Not so. The war went on for another two years.

Bonanno loyalists were starting to sense victory, but when Bonanno suffered a heart attack, he decided that he and his son should retire to Tucson, leaving his broken family to another capo, Paul Sciacca (who had replaced DiGregorio).

Gambino now stood as the victorious and most powerful mob boss in the U.S.

Vegas, and Sinatra

Gambino was seen at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas on August 2, 1967, where he is supposed to have met Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, the group known as “The Rat Pack.”

Gambino allegedly gave each of them $10,000 after performing at the Desert Inn, while Gambino was present in the VIP-lounge.

Gambino also allegedly said to Castellano: “I want a picture of me and Frankie”. Sinatra of course, happily obliged and Gambino, Castellano and other mobsters got a picture with Sinatra in the middle.

Sinatra would later testify about this in court, but announced that he didn’t know any Carlo Gambino. However, it got to a point where he had to explain why he was attending the Havana Conference in Cuba in 1946, showing up with $2,000,000 in a silver suitcase and a picture that showed Sinatra, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Albert “The Executioner” Anastasia, and Carlo Gambino having a drink by a pool.

The Colombo Assassination

It has been suggested that Gambino organized the shooting of Joe Colombo, head of the Colombo crime family, on June 28, 1971. Colombo survived the shooting, but remained in a coma until his death in 1977.

The other allegation is that Profaci family rival Gallo organized the attack himself. It seems that the rest of the Colombo family believed the latter theory, as Gallo was gunned down, not long after.

Many powerful members of The Commission were angry with Joe Columbo for having founded the Italian-American Civil Rights League, and glorying in publicity. Gambino in particular hated publicity, preferring to work in the shadows, and was said to have been quite upset with Columbo about this.

Gallo had recently been in prison, where he had formed close associations with black prisoners who could serve as muscle – a fact that was well known to Gambino. Colombo was shot at a CIAO (Congress of Italo-America Organizations; an umbrella organization that included Colombo’s Italian-American Civil Rights League) rally by a black man who was almost instantly shot and killed.

If Gambino was responsible, it was a master stroke. He was rid of a publicity seeking thorn in his side, and had got the Colombo family to eliminate Gallo, whose propensity for disruptive violence also displeased the Don.

Watchful Eyes

From December 1972, on Ocean Parkway, a van was stationed outside Gambino’s home. In that vehicle sat the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Mob squad, with cameras, lip-readers, and audio-surveillance equipment, including microphones and wire-taps that were planted in Gambino’s home. The van was marked “Organized Crime Control Bureau.”

But even though Gambino had every corner of his house bugged, he knew how to maintain discretion.

According to FBI officials, they once recorded a meeting between Gambino, Aniello “Mr. Neil” Dellacroce and Joseph Biondo, where Biondo is alleged to have said: “Frog legs”, to which Gambino simply nodded. Meeting over; business concluded. The recording tapes came out empty.


In the mid 1970s, Gambino, now diagnosed with a weak heart, decided there were to be two underbosses who both reported to him: Aniello Dellacroce, and Gambino’s own brother-in-law, Paul “Big Paul” Castellano.

Castellano took over the white-collar crimes in Brooklyn like union racketeering, solid and toxic waste, recycling, construction, fraud, and wire fraud, while Dellacroce would have free rein over those who carried out more traditional, ‘hands-on’ Mafia activities and blue-collar crimes, such as murder for hire, loansharking, gambling, extortion, hijacking, pier thefts, fencing, and robbery.

This strategic restructuring also created confusion in the FBI as to who the official underboss in the family was. In reality, the Gambino family was split into two separate factions, with two underbosses and one Don.

In his final years, Gambino chose his cousin and capo, Paul Castellano as his successor after his departure.

The Death of Carlo Gambino

Gambino died of a heart attack on October 15, 1976, while watching his beloved New York Yankees at his home.

He was buried in Saint John’s Cemetery, Queens, in New York City, as was Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and more than ten other lifetime friends. His funeral was said to have been attended by at least 2,000 people, including police officers, judges and politicians.

Gambino left behind sons Thomas, Joseph and Carlo, daughter Phyllis Sinatra, and a crime family with a contingent of 500 soldiers.

Quite the legacy.

I’ll leave you, with this.

Till next time.


Gangsters: Frank Nitti


Francesco Raffaele Nitto (January 27, 1886 – March 19, 1943), also known as Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, was an Italian American gangster. One of Al Capone’s top henchmen, Nitti was in charge of all strong-arm and ‘muscle’ operations.

Nitti was later the front-man for the Chicago Outfit, the organized crime syndicate headed by Capone.

Frank Nitti was portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia in the 1988 biopic “Nitti: The Enforcer”.

Video comes courtesy of YouTube:

So much for Hollywood.

Here’s some history, for you:

Nitti’s Early Life

Francesco Raffaele Nitto was born in the small town of Angri, in the Italian province of Salerno, Campania.

He was the second child of Luigi and Rosina (nee Fezza) Nitto, and a first cousin of Al Capone.

His father died in 1888, when Frank was two years old, and within a year his mother married Francesco Dolendo. Although two children were born to the couple, neither survived – leaving Francesco and his older sister, Giovannina, the only children.

Francesco Dolendo emigrated to the United States in July 1890, and the rest of the family followed in June 1893, when Nitti was 7. The family settled at 113 Navy Street, Brooklyn, New York City.

Little Francesco attended public school and worked odd jobs after hours to support the family. His 15-year-old sister married a 24-year-old man, and his mother gave birth to his half-brother Raphael in 1894, and another child, Gennaro, in 1896.

Francesco quit school after the seventh grade, and worked as a pinsetter, factory worker, and barber.

Al Capone’s family lived nearby, and Nitti was friends with Capone’s older brothers and their criminal gang (the Navy Street Boys).

A worsening relationship with Dolendo provoked Francesco to leave home when he was 14 (in 1900), to work in various local factories.

Around 1910, at the age of 24, he left Brooklyn.

Uncertainty, and Gang Links

The next several years of Nitti’s life are poorly documented, and little can be ascertained.

Francesco may have worked in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn around 1911.

He probably moved to Chicago around 1913, working as a barber and making the acquaintance of gangsters Alex Louis Greenberg and Dean O’Banion.

He definitely married Chicagoan Rosa (Rose) Levitt in Dallas, Texas, on October 18, 1917 – but the couple’s movements after their marriage remain uncertain.

Nitti is known to have become a partner in the Galveston crime syndicate run by “Johnny” Jack Nounes. He is reported to have stolen a large sum of money from Nounes and fellow mobster Dutch Voight, after which Nitti fled to Chicago. By 1918, Nitti had settled there at 914 South Halsted Street.

Nitti quickly renewed his contacts with Greenberg and O’Banion, becoming a jewel thief, liquor smuggler, and fence.

Through his liquor smuggling activities, Nitti came to the attention of Chicago crime boss Johnny “Papa Johnny” Torrio and Torrio’s newly-arrived soldier, Al Capone.

Prohibition, and Capone

Under Torrio’s successor, Al Capone, Nitti’s reputation soared.

Nitti ran Capone’s liquor smuggling and distribution operation, importing whisky from Canada and selling it through a network of speakeasies around Chicago.

Nitti was one of Capone’s top lieutenants, trusted for his leadership skills and business acumen. Capone thought so highly of Nitti that when he went to prison in 1929, he named Nitti as a member of a triumvirate that ran the mob in his place. Nitti was head of operations, with Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik as head of administration and Tony “Joe Batters” Accardo as head of enforcement.

Despite his nickname (“The Enforcer”), Nitti used Mafia soldiers and others to commit violence, rather than do it himself.

In earlier days, Nitti had been one of Capone’s trusted personal bodyguards, but as he rose in the organization, Nitti’s business instincts dictated that he should personally avoid the “dirty work”, and contract it out to others – an early use of delegation.

Frank and Rose Nitti divorced in 1928, and shortly thereafter he married Anna Ronga Nitti (daughter of a mob doctor and former neighbor of the Nittis in the 1920s). The couple adopted a son, Joe.

The New King of Chicago

Frank Nitti took over control of Chicago after Capone was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment in 1932 for income-tax evasion.

Nitti got down to business almost immediately.

He summoned those close to Capone to a conference, outlining how things were going to operate in Capone’s absence, with him as head. Most of the Outfit’s top men were in attendance, including Jake Guzik, Murray Humphreys, Gus Alex, Anthony Accardo, and Paul Ricca.

At the summit Paul Ricca was promoted to Underboss; he would be Nitti’s second in command when enforcing the Outfit’s law on the streets of Chicago. Also promoted that day was Tony Accardo, who had been Capone’s bodyguard; he was given the rank of Capo.

After Repeal

The repeal of the extremely unpopular Volsted Act in 1933 brought an end to Prohibition – and meant that the Outfit had lost its largest source of income.

Nitti had to diversify the Outfit’s interests into areas that had once been secondary to bootlegging.

Nitti expanded their operations into prostitution, gambling and labor racketeering. He also involved the Outfit in legitimate business enterprises, including taverns all across Chicago and a substantial stake in the slot-machine business.

Gambling was to become the lifeblood of the Chicago Mafia, just as bootlegging had been in the Capone era.

A few months into his reign Nitti had to deal with constant pressure from the police – much of it instigated by an old Capone foe, Teddy Newburry.

Further Marriages

Anna Nitti died in 1938.

On November 8, 1939, Capone’s former lawyer Edward J. O’Hare (who had co-operated in bringing about Capone’s downfall) was shot and killed.

Nitti married Ursula Sue Granata – O’Hare’s fiancée – who died in 1940.

He subsequently married Annette Caravetta on May 14, 1942.

Hollywood Extortion Indictment

In 1943, many top members of the Chicago Outfit were indicted for extorting the Hollywood film industry.

Among those prosecuted were Nitti, Phil D’Andrea, Louis “Little New York” Campagna, Nick Circella, Charles “Cherry Nose” Gioe, Ralph Pierce, Ricca, and John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli.

The Outfit was accused of trying to extort money from some of the largest movie studios, including Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, RKO Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. The studios had cooperated with The Outfit to avoid union trouble – labor unrest which was itself stirred up by the mob.

At a meeting of Outfit leaders at Nitti’s home, Ricca blamed Nitti for the indictments. Ricca said that since this had been Nitti’s scheme and the FBI informant who exposed the scheme (Willie Bioff) one of Nitti’s trusted associates, Nitti should go to prison.

An Ambiguous Death

Severely claustrophobic as a result of his first prison term, Nitti dreaded the idea of another prison confinement. It was also rumored that he was suffering from terminal cancer at this time. For these or possibly other reasons, he seems to have decided to take his own life.

The day before his scheduled grand jury appearance, Nitti had breakfast with his wife in their home at 712 Selborne Road in Riverside, Illinois. When his wife left for church, Nitti told her he planned to take a walk, then began to drink heavily. He then loaded a .32 caliber revolver, put it in his coat pocket, and walked five blocks to a local railroad yard.

Two railroad workers spotted Nitti walking on the track of an oncoming train and shouted a warning. They thought the train hit him, but Nitti had jumped out of the way in time.

Two shots rang out.

The workers thought Nitti was shooting at them, then realized he was trying to shoot himself in the head.

The first shot fired by Nitti’s unsteady hand missed and passed through his fedora. The second bullet slammed into his right jaw and exited through the top of his head, taking a lock of his hair with it and leaving the tuft protruding from the hole in the crown of the fedora. The final, fatal, bullet entered behind Nitti’s right ear and lodged in the top of his skull.

Police Chief Allen Rose of North Riverside rushed to the scene with a sergeant and several beat patrolmen, and recognized Nitti immediately.

An autopsy by Dr. William McNalley, coroner’s toxicologist, showed that Nitti’s blood contained .23 of 1 per cent of alcohol – enough to cause an ordinary person to become intoxicated.

A coroner’s jury ruled the following day that Nitti “committed suicide while temporarily insane and in a despondent frame of mind.”

Frank Nitti died on an Illinois Central railroad branch line in North Riverside, Illinois on March 19, 1943, at the age of 57.

Nitti is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Nitti’s grave can be found left of the main Roosevelt Road entrance, about fifty feet from the gate. It is marked “Nitto”.

To the right of the gate is the family plot containing the grave of Al Capone, marked by a six-foot white monument stone. And straight up from the gate can be found the graves of Dion O’Banion and Hymie Weiss – both North Side Gang leaders ordered killed by Capone.

Lot of action, at Mount Carmel.

But that’s all the action, for this one.

See you for our next story – I hope.

Till then.


Gangsters: Carlos Marcello


Carlos “The Little Man” Marcello (February 6, 1910 – March 3, 1993) was a Sicilian-American Mafioso who became the boss of the New Orleans crime family during the 1940s, and held this position for the next 30 years.

Marcello, together with fellow crime bosses Sam Giancana and Santo Trafficante, Jr., has long been suspected of involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – but no such links have ever been proved.

Here’s some footage of the man testifying before the U.S. Congress, in the wake of the Kennedy assassination (Video comes courtesy of YouTube):

And here’s what history has to tell us about the man, himself:

Marcello’s Early Life

Born as Calogero Minacori (or Minacore) to Sicilian parents in Tunis, Tunisia, Marcello was brought to the United States in 1911.

His family settled in a decaying plantation house near Metairie, Louisiana.

Carlos turned to petty crime in the French Quarter. He was later imprisoned for masterminding a crew of teenage gangsters who carried out armed robberies in the small towns surrounding New Orleans.

At the time, local newspapers compared him to the character of Fagin from Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist”.

This conviction was later overturned. However, the following year Marcello was convicted of assault and robbery, and was sentenced to the Louisiana State Penitentiary for nine years. He was released after five years.


In 1938, Marcello was arrested and charged with the sale of more than 23 pounds of marijuana. Despite receiving another lengthy prison sentence and a $76,830 fine, Marcello served less than 10 months in prison.

Upon his release, Marcello became associated with Frank Costello, leader of the Genovese crime family, in New York City.

At the time, Costello was involved in transporting illegal slot machines from New York to New Orleans. Marcello provided the muscle, and arranged for the machines to be placed in local businesses.

Louisiana Crime Boss

By the end of 1947, Marcello had taken control of Louisiana’s illegal gambling network. He had also joined forces with New York Mob associate Meyer Lansky, in order to skim money from some of the most important casinos in the New Orleans area.

According to former members of the Chicago Outfit, Marcello was also assigned a cut of the money skimmed from Las Vegas casinos, in exchange for providing “muscle” in Florida real estate deals.

By this time, Marcello had been selected as the “Godfather” of the New Orleans Mafia, by the family’s capos and the Commission. He was to hold this position for the next 30 years.

Marcello continued the family’s long-standing tradition of fierce independence from interference by Mafiosi in other areas. He enforced a policy that forbade Mafiosi from other families from visiting Louisiana without permission.

Crime and Politics

On March 24, 1959, Marcello appeared before a United States Senate committee investigating organized crime. Serving as Chief Counsel to the committee was Robert F. Kennedy; his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, was a member of the committee.

In response to committee questioning, Marcello invoked the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, refusing to answer any questions relating to his background, activities and associates.

In 1960, Marcello donated $500,000 through Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa, to the Republican campaign of Richard M. Nixon, challenging the Democrat John F. Kennedy.

Deportation to Guatemala – Or Not

After becoming President, John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert Kennedy as U.S. Attorney General. The two men worked closely together on a wide range of issues, including the attempt to tackle organized crime.

In March 1961, under Attorney General Robert Kennedy – acting on requests which had first been made to the Eisenhower administration by former Louisiana state police superintendent Francis Grevemberg – the CIA abducted Marcello and forced him to jump from a C-130 aircraft (at night) over Central America.

Their plan backfired when Marcello reappeared in New Orleans just two weeks later.

On April 4, of that year, Marcello was arrested by the authorities and taken forcibly to Guatemala.

Once again, he reappeared in Baton Rouge, two weeks later.


Undercover informants reported that Marcello made several threats against John F. Kennedy, at one time uttering the traditional Sicilian death threat curse, “Take the stone from my shoe”.

In September 1962, Marcello allegedly told private investigator Edwin Nicholas Becker that, “A dog will continue to bite you if you cut off its tail…,” (a reference to Attorney General Robert Kennedy.), “…whereas if you cut off the dog’s head…,” (meaning President Kennedy), “… it would cease to cause trouble”.

Becker allegedly reported that Marcello, “clearly stated that he was going to arrange to have President Kennedy killed in some way”.

Marcello allegedly told another informant that he would need to take out “insurance” for the assassination by, “…. setting up some nut to take the fall for the job, just like they do in Sicily”.

Just before Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby allegedly made contact with Marcello, and Tampa, Florida boss Santo Trafficante, about a labor problem he was having with the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA).

G. Robert Blakey, Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, published, “The Plot to Kill the President” in 1981.

In the book, Blakey argues that there was a conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy. Blakey believes that Lee Harvey Oswald was a shooter, but also believes that there was at least one other gunman involved.

Blakey came to the conclusion that Marcello, Trafficante, Jr., and Chicago Outfit boss Salvatore “Sam Mooney” Giancana were complicit in planning the assassination.

On January 14, 1992, a New York Post story claimed Marcello, Trafficante, Jr., and Jimmy Hoffa had all been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.

Frank Ragano was quoted as saying that at the beginning of 1963, Hoffa had told him to take a message to Trafficante and Marcello concerning a plan to kill Kennedy. When the meeting took place at the Royal Orleans Hotel, Ragano told the men: “You won’t believe what Hoffa wants me to tell you. Jimmy wants you to kill the President.” He reported that both men gave the impression that they intended to carry out this order.

In his autobiography, “Mob Lawyer” (1994), (co-written with journalist Selwyn Raab), Ragano added that in July 1963, he was once again sent to New Orleans by Hoffa to meet Marcello and Santo Trafficante, concerning plans to kill President Kennedy.

When Kennedy was killed, Hoffa apparently told Ragano, “I told you that they could do it. I’ll never forget what Carlos and Santo did for me.” He added: “This means Bobby is out as Attorney General.” Marcello later told Ragano, “When you see Jimmy (Hoffa), you tell him he owes me and he owes me big.”


After Kennedy’s assassination, the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated Marcello. They came to the conclusion that Marcello was not involved in the assassination.

On the other hand, they also stated that they, “… did not believe Carlos Marcello was a significant organized crime figure,” and that Marcello earned his living, “… as a tomato salesman and real estate investor.”

As a result of this investigation, the Warren Commission concluded that there was no direct link between Ruby and Marcello.


In 1966, Marcello was arrested in New York City after having met with the National Commission.

The meeting was reportedly called because Marcello’s leadership was being challenged by Santo Trafficante Jr. and Anthony Carolla, the son of Marcello’s predecessor as boss of the New Orleans Combine, Sylvestro Carolla.

The Commission had reportedly ruled in Marcello’s favor just before the police burst in.

Marcello was charged with consorting with known felons.

After a long, drawn-out legal battle, Marcello was convicted of assaulting an FBI agent whom he had punched in the face, on his return to Louisiana. Sentenced to two years in prison, he served less than six months, and was released on March 12, 1971.

The BriLab Indictment

In 1981, Marcello, Aubrey W. Young (a former aide to Governor John J. McKeithen), Charles E. Roemer, II (former commissioner of administration to Governor Edwin Washington Edwards), and two other men were indicted in U.S. District Court in New Orleans for conspiracy, racketeering, and mail and wire fraud, in a scheme to bribe state officials to give the five men multi-million dollar insurance contracts.

The charges were the result of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe known as BriLab.

U.S. District Judge Morey Sear allowed the admission of secretly-recorded conversations that he said demonstrated corruption at the highest levels of state government.

Marcello and Roemer were convicted, but Young and the two others were acquitted.

Marcello stayed out of prison for BriLab while his conviction was being appealed.

He finally reported to prison in 1983, when his appeal was denied.

The Death of Carlos Marcello

Early in 1989, Marcello suffered a series of strokes that left him severely disabled, and by the end of March, he was showing obvious signs of Alzheimer’s disease. At times he became so disoriented that he thought he was living in a hotel, and could not recognize family members who visited him.

In July, in a surprise move, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out his BriLab conviction. One judge denied this reversal, but his decision in turn was overruled.

In October – after having served six years and six months of his sentence – Marcello was released.

He returned to his white marble, two-story mansion overlooking a golf course in Metairie.

Here, he lived out the last years of his life, cared for by a group of nurses, and watched over by his wife and family. Apparently, he lost the power of speech and regressed to his infancy.

He was never seen in public again, and died on March 3, 1993.

The Marcello family and its descendants still own or control a significant amount of real estate in southeast Louisiana.

Nice work, if you can get it.

That’s all, for this one.

I hope you’ll join me, for our next story.

Till then.


Gangsters: Sam Giancana


Salvatore Giancana (born Salvatore Giangana; June 15, 1908 – June 19, 1975), better known as Sam Giancana, was a Sicilian American mobster and boss of the Chicago Outfit from 1957–1966. Among his other nicknames were, “Momo”, “Mooney,” “Sam the Cigar,” and “Sammy.”

Giancana was at the height of his power when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated – and has been depicted in popular conspiracy theory folklore as one of the background movers of that event.

The 1995 TV film “Sugartime” depicts Giancana’s relationship with singer Phyllis McGuire of The McGuire Sisters. In the movie, Sam Giancana is played by John Turturro.

Video comes courtesy of You Tube:

So much for Hollywood.

Here’s what history has to tell us:

Giancana’s Early Life

Giancana was born as Salvatore Giangana to Sicilian immigrants in Little Italy, Chicago.

His father, Antonino (later simplified to Antonio) Giangana, owned a pushcart and briefly owned an Italian ice shop, which was later firebombed by gangland rivals of his son.

Criminal Ties

Sam Giancana joined the Forty-Two Gang (the 42ers), a juvenile street crew answering to political boss Joseph Esposito.

Giancana soon developed a reputation for being an excellent getaway driver, a high earner, and a vicious killer.

After Esposito’s murder (in which Giancana was allegedly involved), the 42 Gang was transformed into a de facto extension of the Chicago Outfit.

The Outfit was initially wary of the 42ers, thinking them too wild. However, Giancana’s leadership qualities, the fact that he was an excellent “wheel man” with a get-away car, and his knack for making money on the street gained him the notice of higher-level Cosa Nostra figures like Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, and Tony “Joe Batters” Accardo.

In the late 1930s, Giancana became the first 42er to join the Outfit.

In 1942, Giancana also allegedly forced jazz musician Tommy Dorsey into letting singer Frank Sinatra out of his contract early, so that Sinatra could expand his career.

Family Life

On September 23, 1933, Sam married Angelina DeTolve, the daughter of immigrants from the Italian region of Basilicata. They had three daughters: Antoinette, Bonnie and Francine.

Angelina died in 1954, and left Sam to raise his daughters.

Sam never remarried after becoming a widower and was known as a good family man (despite frequent infidelities), and held his late wife in high regard and respect during their marriage and after her death.

All of the Giancana daughters have married at least once.

As of 1984, at least one daughter, Antoinette, had taken the “Giancana” name again.

Giancana’s Rise to Power

In 1945, after serving a sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, Indiana (during which time he told his children he was away “at college”), Giancana made a name for himself by convincing Accardo (then the Outfit’s enforcement chief) to stage a take-over of Chicago’s African-American “policy” (lottery) pay-out system for The Outfit.

Giancana’s crew is believed to have been responsible for convincing African-American mobster Eddie Jones to leave this racket, and leave the country.

Giancana’s people were also responsible for the murder on August 4, 1952 of African American gambling boss Theodore Roe.

Both Jones and Roe were leading South Side “Policy Kings”. However, Roe had refused to surrender control of his operation as the Outfit had demanded.

To further complicate matters, on June 19, 1951, Roe had fatally shot Lennard “Fat Lennie” Caifano, a made man in Giancana’s organization.

The South Side “policy”-game takeover by the Outfit was not complete until another Outfit member – Jackie “the Lackey” Cerone – scared “Big Jim” Martin to Mexico, with two bullets to the head that did not kill him.

From then on, the lottery money started rolling in for The Outfit.

After this gambling war, the amount that this game produced for The Outfit was in the millions of dollars a year, and brought Giancana further notice. It is believed to have been a major factor in his being “anointed” as the Outfit’s new boss when Accardo stepped aside from being the front boss to becoming “consigliere,” in 1957.

However, it was generally understood that Accardo and Ricca still held the real power. No major business transactions (and certainly no hits) took place without Accardo and Ricca’s approval.

Giancana was present at the Mafia’s 1957 Apalachin Meeting at the Upstate New York estate of Joseph Barbara.

Later, Buffalo crime boss Stefano Magaddino and Giancana were overheard on a surveillance tape saying that the meeting should have taken place in the Chicago area. Giancana claimed that the Chicago area was “the safest place in the world” for a major underworld meeting, because he had several police chiefs on his payroll. If the syndicate ever wanted to hold a meeting in Chicago, Giancana said, they had nothing to fear because they had the area “locked up tight.”

Alleged CIA connections

It is widely reputed – and partially corroborated by the Church Committee Hearings – that during the Kennedy administration, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Giancana and other mobsters to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro. Giancana reportedly said that the CIA and the Cosa Nostra were “different sides of the same coin.”

The association between Giancana and JFK is indicated in the “Exner File” written by Judith Campbell Exner. Exner was reputed to be mistress to both Giancana and JFK – and claimed she delivered communications between the two, regarding Fidel Castro.

However, Giancana’s daughter, Antoinette, has stated her belief that her father was running a scam, in order to pocket millions of dollars in CIA funding.

Cuba and Castro

According to the recently-declassified CIA “Family Jewels” documents, Giancana and Tampa / Miami Syndicate leader Santo Trafficante, Jr. were contacted in September 1960 by a go-between from the CIA, Robert Maheu, about the possibility of an assassination attempt.

After Maheu had contacted Johnny Roselli – a Mafia member in Las Vegas, and Giancana’s number-two man – Maheu had presented himself as a representative of numerous international business firms in Cuba that were being expropriated by Castro.

He offered $150,000 for the “removal” of Castro through this operation. The documents suggest that neither Roselli, Giancana, nor Trafficante accepted any sort of payments for the job.

According to the files, it was Giancana who suggested employing a series of poison pills that could be used to doctor Castro’s food and drink. These pills were given by the CIA to Giancana’s nominee, Juan Orta – whom Giancana presented as being a corrupt official in the new Cuban government, and one who had access to Castro.

After a series of six attempts to introduce the poison into Castro’s food, Orta abruptly demanded to be excused from the mission, handing over the job to another, unnamed participant.

Later, a second attempt was mounted through Giancana and Trafficante using Dr. Anthony Verona, the leader of the Cuban Exile Junta, who had, according to Trafficante, become “disaffected with the apparent ineffectual progress of the Junta”.

Verona requested $10,000 in expenses and $1,000 worth of communications equipment. However, it is unclear how far the second attempt went, as the entire program was canceled shortly thereafter due to the launching of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April 1961.


At the same time, Giancana (according to the “Family Jewels”) approached Maheu to bug the room of his then-mistress Phyllis McGuire – whom he suspected of having an affair with comedian Dan Rowan.

Although documents suggest Maheu acquiesced, the bug was not planted, due to the arrest of the agent who had been given the task of installing the device.

According to the documents, Robert Kennedy moved to block the prosecution of the agent and of Maheu (who was soon linked to the bugging attempt), at the CIA’s request.

Giancana and McGuire, who had a long lasting affair, were originally introduced by Frank Sinatra. During part of the affair, (according to Sam’s daughter Antoinette), McGuire had a concurrent affair with President Kennedy.

Giancana’s Downfall

Giancana’s behavior was too high profile for Outfit tastes, and attracted far too much federal scrutiny. He also refused to cut his underlings in on his lavish profits from offshore casinos in Iran and Central America.

Both of these factors resulted in much bitterness among the Outfit’s rank-and-file.

Giancana was also the subject of many hours of wiretap surveillance. On one recording, he was heard to say “We’re whacking a lot of the wrong guys lately.”

As a result, Giancana was deposed in the mid 1960s by Ricca and Accardo as day-to-day boss, and replaced by Joseph “Joey Doves” Aiuppa.

After about seven years of exile inside a lavish villa in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Giancana was arrested by Mexican authorities in 1974 and deported to the United States.

He arrived back in Chicago on July 21, 1974.

The Death of Sam Giancana

After his return to the U.S., Giancana joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a witness in the prosecution of organized crime in Chicago.

The police detailed officers to guard his house in Oak Park, Illinois.

However, on the night of June 19, 1975, someone recalled the police detail.

A gunman later entered Giancana’s kitchen and shot him in the back of the head as he was frying sausage and peppers.
After Giancana fell to the ground, the gunman turned him over and shot him six more times in the face and neck.

Investigators suspected that the murderer was a close friend whom Giancana had let into the house. One reason for this suspicion was that Giancana, due to his heart problems, could not eat spicy foods. Therefore, he might have been cooking for the friend.

Giancana was interred next to his wife, Angelina, in a family mausoleum at Mount Carmel Cemetery, in Hillside, Illinois.

Conspiracy Theories

Giancana was killed shortly before he was scheduled to appear before a U. S. Senate committee investigating supposed CIA and Cosa Nostra collusion in plots to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.

Some commentators have alleged that the CIA killed Giancana because of his troubled history with the agency. However, former CIA Director William Colby has been quoted as saying, “We had nothing to do with it.”

Another theory is that Trafficante crime family boss Santo Trafficante, Jr. ordered Giancana’s murder due to mob fears that Giancana would testify about Cosa Nostra and CIA plots to kill Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Trafficante would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Tony Accardo and Joseph Aiuppa to kill Giancana. Johnny Roselli – whose body was found stuffed in an oil drum floating off Miami – was definitely killed on Trafficante’s orders.

Most investigators believe that Aiuppa ordered the Giancana murder. Giancana was still refusing to share any of his offshore gambling profits with the Outfit. In addition, Giancana was reportedly scheming to become Outfit boss again.

According to former Mafia associate Michael J. Corbitt, Aiuppa seized control of Giancana’s casinos in the aftermath of the murder, strategically sharing them with his caporegimes.

Longtime friend and associate Dominic “Butch” Blasi was with Giancana the night he was murdered, and was questioned by police as a suspect. FBI experts and Giancana’s daughter, Antoinette, do not consider him Giancana’s killer.

Other Mafia suspects are Harry Aleman, Charles “Chuckie” English, and Charles Nicoletti.

Within days of Giancana’s murder, Willow Springs police chief and Outfit associate Michael J. Corbitt discussed the murder with capo Salvatore Bastone.

Bastone told him, “You know, Sam sure loved that little guy in Oak Park… Tony Spilotro…. Tony was over to Sam’s house all the time. He lived right by there. Did you know Tony even figured out a way where he could get in through the back of Sam’s place without anybody seeing him? He’d go through other people’s yards, go over fences…”

When Corbitt asked for a reason for Giancana’s death, Bastone quipped, “Let’s just say that Sam should’ve remembered what happened to Bugsy Siegel.”


A cautionary tale.

And one I hope will sustain you, till our next one.