Gangsters > The Commission

The Commission

Background

The Commission was an

In 1935, in its first big test, the Commission ordered gang boss Dutch Schultz to drop his plans to murder Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey. Luciano argued that a Dewey assassination would precipitate a massive law enforcement crackdown. When Schultz announced that he was going to kill Dewey, or his Assistant David Asch, anyway in the next three days, the Commission quickly arranged Schultz's murder.[24] On October 24, 1935, Schultz was murdered in a tavern in Newark, New Jersey.[25] Only one year earlier, Luciano had ordered the execution of Dutch Schultz because he wanted to kill Dewey, an event which would have brought an enormous heat on the Cosa Nostra. By this he actually saved Dewey's life. Dewey and his Mob busting crew nonetheless organized a raid of several separate brothels and over 100 prostitutes were brought in. They all spoke of the terrible rule of Luciano's gang which made them work long shifts and received a small amount of money. Once they had nabbed Luciano in 1936 they started to realize they had actually captured the boss of a large criminal enterprise. After a short trial, Luciano was sentenced 30 to 50 years for his involvement in the brothels.

Commission Leaders

1931 – 1936 (5 years) – Charles “Lucky” Luciano

1936 – 1951 (15 years) – Vincent Mangano

1951 – 1957 (6 years) – Joe Bonanno, Joseph Profaci and Stefano Magaddino (Conservative) Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia and Tommy Lucchese (Liberal)

1957 – 1959 (2 years) – The Commission, Tommy Lucchese and Carlo Gambino

1959 – 1976 (17 years) – Carlo Gambino

1976 – 1985 (9 years) – Paul Castellano

Unofficial 1986–1992 (6 years) — John Gotti

Unofficial 1992–1997 (5 years) — Vincent Gigante

After the late 1990's the mafia was significantly disrupted by the efforts of law enforcement and the fragments of the organizations continued most likely to this day with petty crime and narcotics trafficking. There could also be a significant lack of knowledge on the organization due to the FBI putting most of their resources towards national security and the pursuit of terrorism.

As an alternative to the boss of all bosses, Luciano set up The Commission,[6] where the bosses of the most powerful families would have equal say and vote on important matters and solve disputes between families. This group ruled over the National Crime Syndicate and brought in an era of peace and prosperity for the American Mafia.[26] By mid-century, there were 26 official Commission-sanctioned Mafia crime families, each based in a different city (except for the Five Families which were all based in New York).[27] Each family operated independently from the others and generally had exclusive territory it controlled.[6] As opposed to the older generation of "Mustache Petes" such as Maranzano and Masseria, who usually worked only with fellow Italians, the "Young Turks" led by Luciano were more open to working with other groups, most notably the Jewish-American criminal syndicates to achieve greater profits. The Mafia thrived by following a strict set of rules that originated in Sicily that called for an organized hierarchical structure and a code of silence that forbade its members from cooperating with the police (Omertà). Failure to follow any of these rules was punishable by death. The rise of power that the Mafia acquired during Prohibition would continue long after alcohol was made legal again. Criminal empires which had expanded on bootleg money would find other avenues to continue making large sums of money. When alcohol ceased to be prohibited in 1933, the Mafia diversified its money-making criminal activities to include (both old and new): illegal gambling operations, loan sharking, extortion, protection rackets, drug trafficking, fencing, and labor racketeering through control of labor unions. In the mid-20th century, the Mafia was reputed to have infiltrated many labor unions in the United States, most notably the Teamsters and International Longshoremen's Association.[6] This allowed crime families to make inroads into very profitable legitimate businesses such as construction, demolition, waste management, trucking, and in the waterfront and garment industry.[28] In addition they could raid the unions' health and pension funds, extort businesses with threats of a workers' strike and participate in bid rigging. In New York City, most construction projects could not be performed without the Five Families' approval. In the port and loading dock industries, the Mafia bribed union members to tip them off to valuable items being brought in. Mobsters would then steal these products and fence the stolen merchandise. Charles "Lucky" Luciano in 1948 Meyer Lansky made inroads into the casino industry in Cuba during the 1930s while the Mafia was already involved in exporting Cuban sugar and rum.[29] When his friend Fulgencio Batista became president of Cuba in 1952, several Mafia bosses were able to make legitimate investments in legalized casinos. One estimate of the number of casinos mobsters owned was no less than 19.[29] However, when Batista was overthrown following the Cuban Revolution, his successor Fidel Castro banned U.S. investment in the country, putting an end to the Mafia's presence in Cuba.[29] Las Vegas was seen as an "open city" where any family can work. Once Nevada legalized gambling, mobsters were quick to take advantage and the casino industry became very popular in Las Vegas. Since the 1940s, Mafia families from New York, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Chicago had interests in Las Vegas casinos. They got loans from the Teamsters' pension fund, a union they effectively controlled, and used legitimate front men to build casinos.[30] When money came into the counting room, hired men skimmed cash before it was recorded, then delivered it to their respective bosses.[30] This money went unrecorded, but the amount is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Operating in the shadows, the Mafia faced little opposition from law enforcement. Local law enforcement agencies did not have the resources or knowledge to effectively combat organized crime committed by a secret society they were unaware existed.[28] Many people within police forces and courts were simply bribed, while witness intimidation was also common.[28] In 1951, a U.S. Senate committee called the Kefauver Hearings determined that a "sinister criminal organization" known as the Mafia operated in the nation.[6] Many suspected mobsters were subpoenaed for questioning, but few testified and none gave any meaningful information. In 1957, New York State Police uncovered a meeting and arrested major figures from around the country in Apalachin, New York. The event (dubbed the "Apalachin Meeting") forced the FBI to recognize organized crime as a serious problem in the United States and changed the way law enforcement investigated it.[6] In 1963, Joe Valachi became the first Mafia member to turn state's evidence, and provided detailed information of its inner workings and secrets. More importantly, he revealed Mafia's existence to the law, which enabled the Federal Bureau of Investigations to begin an aggressive assault on the Mafia's National Crime Syndicate.[31] Following Valachi's testimony, the Mafia could no longer operate completely in the shadows. The FBI put a lot more effort and resources into organized crime actives nationwide and created the Organized Crime Strike Force in various cities. However, while all this created more pressure on the Mafia, it did little to curb their criminal activities. Success was made by the beginning of the 1980s, when the FBI was able to rid Las Vegas casinos of Mafia control and made a determined effort to loosen the Mafia's strong hold on labor unions.

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