Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Carlo Gambino was probably the most vicious and heartless mob boss ever to run a Mafia family. He got his start in Sicily as part of an organization called the “Honored Society” and was under a boss named Don Vito. He was a vicious killer for the organization and was “made” at the young age of nineteen. He was smuggled out of Sicily when Benito Mussolini was making trouble for the Honored Society and vowed to end organized crime in Italy and Sicily.
Gambino wound up in Norfolk, Virginia and through his family’s connections with the Castellano Crime family, went to New York and began working for Castellano. He worked for Castellano as a rum runner, driver and sitting shotgun during the prohibition era. Eventually, he went to work for the Masseria crime organization. Masseria’s rival at the time was Salvador Maranzano. Gambino would then hook up with another up and comer named Charles Luciano and together they planned the hits on Masseria and Maranzano. Masseria was the first to go as he was shot and killed in a restaurant in Coney Island while there to meet with Luciano. Maranzano was the new crime boss and along with Luciano, Carlo Gambino joined Maranzano’s family. Maranzano would later be killed in his office upon orders from Luciano and he would become the new boss. Luciano broke the family up into a five family business commission with each family getting an equal vote in business matters.
Gambino went to work with Vincent Mangano. Mangano controlled the Brooklyn docks. Carlo Gambino brought in Paul Castellano as his aide, when at the age of 29; Gambino was named capo of his own crew. When Prohibition was lifted in 1933, Gambino went to selling liquor without paying taxes. He was eventually arrested and convicted on tax evasion charges. After receiving a suspended sentence for his crime, he invested his illegal gotten gains into gay bars for homosexual men and women. Something that was virtually unmentionable back then. Then in 1951, Vincent Mangano had mysteriously disappeared and the “Mad Hatter” Albert Anastasia took control of the family and a few years later, in 1956, Anastasia named Carlo Gambino as his under boss.
About a year later, Anastasia was murdered while sitting in a barber shop with hot towels on his face. Thus began the Gambino crime family dynasty. Carlo Gambino kept a low profile and did not wear expensive clothes. He also avoided reporters at all costs as well. By the time 1969 came about, the Gambino Crime Family had 25 crews with more than 850 men. He was under constant FBI surveillance and there was even a police car constantly parked in front of his home with the words “Organized Crime Control Bureau” marked on the vehicle. He continued to run the family and continued his low profile until he was arrested in 1969 for planning the hijacking of an armored truck. Also, that same year, a new crew member named John Gotti was arrested for hijacking a truck.
In 1971, the federal government tried to deport Gambino back to Sicily, but thanks to a couple of senators who were in the wallet of the mob, the deportation never happened. In 1976, Carlo Gambino died of a heart attack in his home and Paul Castellano took over the family. John Gotti took offense to this and eventually ordered a hit on Castellano and Gotti took over as boss. Castellano was shot and killed in front of Spark's Steakhouse in Manhattan NY in1986 and Gotti was allegedly sitting in a car watching the hit. Carlo Gambino was a vicious killer and a ruthless mob boss but managed to stay under the radar as much as he could. He is only one of a few mob bosses that died from natural causes but his legacy would last for many years to come.