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The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr


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Where did Santo Trafficante Jr. get his power?

What was his involvement in the national organized crime scene?

The popular myth is that the Mafia is not involved with drug trafficking, yet Trafficante was an important player on the international narcotics scene. What were his connections?

Santo's name pops up as a part of the plot to kill Kennedy. What is your take?

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Where did Santo Trafficante Jr. get his power?

What was his involvement in the national organized crime scene?

The popular myth is that the Mafia is not involved with drug trafficking, yet Trafficante was an important player on the international narcotics scene. What were his connections?

Santo's name pops up as a part of the plot to kill Kennedy. What is your take?

1. Santo Trafficante Jr. inherited the throne of boss of the Tampa Mafia from his father, Santo Sr., who died in August of 1954. Santo had to contend with a rival group in the Mafia, the faction loyal to exiled mob boss Salvatore "Red" Italiano. There was a war for control and the Trafficantes easily took down the Italiano crew. Santo Jr. himself was shot in the arm in 1953. Though a suspect was never publicly identified, most point to Joe Antinori as the shooter. Joe was killed a few months later. I think Santo's ability to be ruthless when he needed coupled with his strategic capabilities really enamored him to other mob bosses, especially in the Northeast.

2. Santo had very close ties with the New York families. Santo Jr. was particularly close with Joe Profaci, Gaetano Luchesse, and Carlo Gambino. During the casino days of pre-Castro Cuba, Trafficante was one of the most influential Mafia figures on the scene. At a base level, he held a lot of influence because he spoke fluent Spanish and with the Tampa/Cuban ethnic connection, he already had ties to native underworld figures on the island.

In Miami during the 1960s, Santo held court with Chicago mobsters like Sam Giancana and Jackie Cerone, Philly mob boss Angelo Bruno, and Anthony Giordano, boss of St. Louis. In addition, Santo's extensive network of associates extended across the Atlantic to Europe.

3. Santo Jr.'s name first appeared in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics files in the mid 1940s when him and his father were named as financiers of heroin shipments from Cuba to New York City. After his father died, Santo expanded his narcotics financing operation to Cuba and developed key partnerships with Corsican narcotics figures like the enigmatic Michel Mertz. In the late 1960s Santo journeyed to SE Asia, detailed in Alfred McCoy's tome THE POLITICS OF HEROIN IN SE ASIA. Aroudn the same time, former Bay of PIgs veterans and Cuban underworld figures in Miami became big time importers of heroin and cocaine through the Port of Miami. Trafficante's financial support and key connections were essential to their success.

4. I think there's a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest Trafficante's invovlement in the assasination. G. Robert Blakey told me when I interviewed him, that he was positive Trafficante had some involvement. I go over some specifics in the book, as well as some of the tangled web of associations between Jack Ruby, Trafficante, Roselli, and people like Frank Sturgis and John Martino.

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Scott,

Do you explore any connections between Trafficante and Manuel Pineiro?

James

I have a couple paragraphs about Pineiro, who admitted he approached Trafficante about becoming an agent for Castro. I think Pineiro was the connection between Trafficante and Castro, assuming of course that Santo was a double agent. I think Trafficante definitely made some kind of deal with Castro.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Scott,

Do you explore any connections between Trafficante and Manuel Pineiro?

James

I have a couple paragraphs about Pineiro, who admitted he approached Trafficante about becoming an agent for Castro. I think Pineiro was the connection between Trafficante and Castro, assuming of course that Santo was a double agent. I think Trafficante definitely made some kind of deal with Castro.

Scott, in looking at Santo's early days, did you ever come across any connections between his family and the Maceo brothers of Galveston? Did you come across any ties to Texas oilmen? Any contact with Robert Maheu and Howard Hughes prior to his involvement in the CIA's attempts on Castro?

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Scott,

Scott, in looking at Santo's early days, did you ever come across any connections between his family and the Maceo brothers of Galveston? Did you come across any ties to Texas oilmen? Any contact with Robert Maheu and Howard Hughes prior to his involvement in the CIA's attempts on Castro?

Pat,

I came across no evidence of collusion between Trafficante and Texas oilmen, nor any evidence of a connection to Maheu prior to the Castro plots. Not to say that there wasn't any, but I didn't see it.

While Santo never met with the Maceos personally, their ties to Marcello and Satno's close ties to Carlos and Dallas guys like Joe Campisi point to his familiarity with the Texas underworld. Santo of course knew Jack RUby and other Dallas-based gangland figures like Jack Dolan, Russell Matthews, and George Fuqua.

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  • 2 months later...

I have almost finished Cigar City Mafia by Scott and have just received, via Amazon, The Silent Don.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Scott's writing style and have found Cigar City Mafia easy to read, unlike some of the JFK assassination epistles that I have recently read (and enjoyed, even though getting through them was a lengthy, laborious exercise).

Thanks for the helpful work, Scott.

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I have almost finished Cigar City Mafia by Scott and have just received, via Amazon, The Silent Don.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Scott's writing style and have found Cigar City Mafia easy to read, unlike some of the JFK assassination epistles that I have recently read (and enjoyed, even though getting through them was a lengthy, laborious exercise).

Thanks for the helpful work, Scott.

I concur, reading Silent Don and Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked back to back really gives some insight into the Cuban/Mob situation.

Kiddos to Scott and Larry,

BK

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  • 3 weeks later...
I have almost finished Cigar City Mafia by Scott and have just received, via Amazon, The Silent Don.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Scott's writing style and have found Cigar City Mafia easy to read, unlike some of the JFK assassination epistles that I have recently read (and enjoyed, even though getting through them was a lengthy, laborious exercise).

Thanks for the helpful work, Scott.

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you enojoyed it.

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I have almost finished Cigar City Mafia by Scott and have just received, via Amazon, The Silent Don.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Scott's writing style and have found Cigar City Mafia easy to read, unlike some of the JFK assassination epistles that I have recently read (and enjoyed, even though getting through them was a lengthy, laborious exercise).

Thanks for the helpful work, Scott.

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you enojoyed it.

Hi Scott,

I too enjoyed your book and have a few questions if you have the time?

You mention that Trafficante was given the provisional okay from the heads of the other mobsters at the Hotel President conference in May 1929.

"At the Hotel President conference in May 1929, one of the main orders of business was the deal with Al Capone's increasing profile in Chicago and with the resulting violence from a major gang war trhat had been raging for years. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre earlier that year had been icing on the proverbial cake, bringing together racketeers from across the country to the Jersey Shore. According to Florida law enforcement, it was at this meeting that the Tampa family was formally recognized by the New York - heavy contingent. It could be argued that the Hotel Statler meeting the previous year served as the formal recognition of the powers in the Tampa underworld, but since no secretary took minutes, the discussions at the meetings can only be surmised." (p. 44)

There have only been a half dozen or so identified meetins of the "Commission," beginning with Atlantic City in 1929, Havana 1946, Appalachin 1957?, and the New York city restaurant dinner, are the only ones I know of.

While no secretaries took minutes, the celebrity status of the mobsters made for good newspaper coverage in each instance, though there were probably a few big meetings that didn't make the papers.

Your source for the 1929 Atlantic City/Jersey Shore meeting is Florida law enforcement, so I was wondering if that was from a wire tap or infiltrator or what?

Thanks,

BK

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I have almost finished Cigar City Mafia by Scott and have just received, via Amazon, The Silent Don.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Scott's writing style and have found Cigar City Mafia easy to read, unlike some of the JFK assassination epistles that I have recently read (and enjoyed, even though getting through them was a lengthy, laborious exercise).

Thanks for the helpful work, Scott.

Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you enojoyed it.

Hi Scott,

I too enjoyed your book and have a few questions if you have the time?

You mention that Trafficante was given the provisional okay from the heads of the other mobsters at the Hotel President conference in May 1929.

"At the Hotel President conference in May 1929, one of the main orders of business was the deal with Al Capone's increasing profile in Chicago and with the resulting violence from a major gang war trhat had been raging for years. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre earlier that year had been icing on the proverbial cake, bringing together racketeers from across the country to the Jersey Shore. According to Florida law enforcement, it was at this meeting that the Tampa family was formally recognized by the New York - heavy contingent. It could be argued that the Hotel Statler meeting the previous year served as the formal recognition of the powers in the Tampa underworld, but since no secretary took minutes, the discussions at the meetings can only be surmised." (p. 44)

There have only been a half dozen or so identified meetins of the "Commission," beginning with Atlantic City in 1929, Havana 1946, Appalachin 1957?, and the New York city restaurant dinner, are the only ones I know of.

While no secretaries took minutes, the celebrity status of the mobsters made for good newspaper coverage in each instance, though there were probably a few big meetings that didn't make the papers.

Your source for the 1929 Atlantic City/Jersey Shore meeting is Florida law enforcement, so I was wondering if that was from a wire tap or infiltrator or what?

Thanks,

BK

William,

Acutally there have been many meetings of the COmmission, though in later years it was mainly a New York heavy contingent. By the 1980s the COmmission was mainly New York and CHicago. There were also high level meetings in Cuba with reps from most of the families, as well as some in Florida in the mid 1970s. The last known meeting I heard about was in the early 2000s and was led by Joe Massino of the Bonnanos before his arrest.

And I'm sure there were some that no one knows about. They are supposed to be a secret group after all! :blink:

The Trafficante connection to the 1929 meeting comes from the FLorida Department of Law Enforcement and their OC expert. He happens to be a friend and had investigated the Trafficante family for over 30 years (as well as other mob families with representation in Florida). He spent a great deal of time talking to some of the remianing old timers that would talk. But I actually think the reference to the Atlantic City meeting and the Trafficante connection came out in some early books and article son the Mafia- defintiely Al Capone and Lucinao's appearance at the meeting. Of course with something like this you are limited by the available information.

The Hotel Statler meeting the previous year was widely covered, mainly because the police busted it up. The Tampa representatives there were Joe Vaglica and Ignazio Italiano.

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