Gambino Family is Dismantled, Again
I’ve been fascinated with the mafia in America for many years. Not the movies and TV shows, although many have been great, but with the actual history of organized crime from the early 20th century up to the present. There’s not much I haven’t read about it and I’ve even met a couple of “mobsters” along the way.
Shortly after my army stint I was working as a wallpaper hanger while going to college at night. I met Bill Bonanno and his wife Rosalie when I was hired (through a reference from another, lower echelon guy with mob ties) to paper the family room in his moderate home on Minnesota Avenue in San Jose. It was shortly after that that he was indicted in the cheese factory murder conspiracy and eventually did a total of 12 years in prison. His dad was Joe Bonanno, head of the NY Bonanno crime family and head of the NY “commission”, a group representing the 5 Ny families plus Chicago and Buffalo.
Good reads on their family are Honor Thy Father by Gay Talese and Bound by Honor by Bill himself. He died a couple months ago at age 75. His father Joe (Joe Bananas) Bonanno died in 2002 at age 97 I believe. He was the inspiration for The Godfather trilogy and he and his son were among the rare La Cosa Nostra members who were allowed to retire. They both died at their family homes in Tucson, Az.
Yesterday, the FBI picked up some 50 members of the Gambino family in the New York area and authorities in Palermo, Sicily expect to round up a few dozen more. This group runs the atlantic drug trade among other things.
Senior anti-Mafia prosecutor Francesco Messineo told reporters in Rome: “There was an attempt to rekindle ties between Cosa Nostra in Palermo and New York because the Sicilian Mafia wanted to get back into drug trafficking in a big way.”
The Italian arrests included suspects connected with “boss of bosses” Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who was arrested in November and who had taken over after the arrest in 2006 of Bernardo Provenzano who had spent decades in hiding.
As I recall, when John Gotti, who became the head of the Gambino family in the mid 80s, was arrested and went to prison, it was touted by the FBI as the last, crushing blow to that organization. That feeling was enhanced when Gotti, who had continued to run the family from his prison cell, died in 2002. Obviously that was not the case.
La Cosa Nostra (Our Thing) the mafia, the mob, organized crime, whatever you call it, it is part of Americana and a rich, if brutal part of our history. It is also a multi-billion dollar business now as it has been for years. It’s tentacles have extended into all of the power bases of our country including the unions, corporations and even the White House.
A good summary of the main players and the five families can be found here.
cross posted at The Impolitic