The Cosa Nostra (or the Italian Mafia) is probably the longest lasting western criminal organization in existence. There are Eastern groups like the Japanese Yakuza and the Chinese Triads that have been around much longer.
Last week in Palermo the Italian Police gave us insight into the world of the Cosa Nostra. They had a wire up and caught a member of a local mafia clan bragging about how his father’s uncle was the first mafia member to kill an anti-mafia cop. That was 105 years ago and the NYPD Detective Giuseppe Joe Petrosino was one of the first US Mafia busters. He worked hard against the black hand in New York and he went to Palermo on a mission to find out if the mafia in Italy was working with the mafia in America. The media caught wind of his mission and made it public. Joe thought he was safe because in America the Mafia did not kill cops. What Joe did not know was that Paolo Palazzotto was waiting to ambush him when he was to meet with an informant.
I get asked all the time if there is still a mafia. The answer is yes and as long as there is money to be made illegally, they will continue to flourish. The fact that the FBI cut down their mafia squads and are now going after terrorists instead, helps. A lot of people thought the mafia was out of the carting or waste hauling business. They are far from out, as demonstrated by the recent case against a number of mobsters.
Three mafia families were involved in the scheme: Genovese, Lucchese and Gambino. The waste disposal scheme went like this: most of these guys had been banned for life from the waste trade, so they they had what are called “controlled owners” stand in for them. They controlled waste disposal in New Jersey and New York in this manner. They would take up to 90% of the profit from the “controlled owner” and divide it up amongst the crime families. They would also give these controlled owners shylock loans and then bleed them dry. They stole thousands of pounds of cardboard from other waste haulers and then resold the cardboard at a 100% profit, because it cost them nothing. They controlled the waste business by claiming what they called a "property rights" system. That meant that every member of the waste enterprise from their family would always own the stop if they serviced it. That means no other mafia family could bid on it lower or offer a better service because this would result in a sitdown that would go to the company that first serviced the stop. If another non-members waste hauler came in and tried to service a stop they would be threatened, beaten or worse.
Carmine Franco, also known as “Papa Smurf” even had containers stolen from competitors. They would re-orientate them and paint them in their own colors.
The FBI used an informant, Charles Hughes, who ran a waste disposal company named M&C. He recorded 530 days of conversations including Papa Smurf extorting him for payments. The only problem? Charles Hughes was arrested for soliciting sex from a girl he thought was 15. So in other words, the FBI used a guy like those you see arrested on the TV show, “To Catch a Predator,” a pedophile, a low life. It is one thing when they are making a deal with a bad guy who kills another bad guy, but its a different story when they are working with a kiddy raper. So they have now dropped the charges of 10 of the 29 people arrested because they know they can't put that terrible witness in front of a jury.