King of the Brooklyn Docks
Albert Anastasia (1902-1957)
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Building The Syndicate
By the later 1920s, Anastasia had entered into partnership arrangements with Joe Adonis (Giuseppe Doto), Willie Moretti and Augie Pisano (Anthony Carfano). He was friendly with Vito Genovese and others who worked closely with rising star Charlie Luciano. It appears likely that he was also acquainted with Frankie Yale.
His major criminal interest was at the waterfront. Anastasia gained control of union locals of the International Longshoremen's Association and could extort regular payments from both dock workers and their employers.
As 1930 arrived, another underworld war began. "Joe the Boss" Masseria, after disposing of D'Aquila in 1928, began following in the old boss of bosses' footsteps. He started to influence matters in other crime families and in other regions. Rather than strengthen his position as underworld leader, his meddling caused many American Mafiosi to oppose him.
Masseria imposed leadership changes on families in Detroit, Brooklyn and the Bronx. He took sides in an underworld conflict in Cleveland and also backed Al Capone in his war against established Sicilian family in Chicago.
Backed by families in Detroit, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Chicago, a Brooklyn group of Mafiosi who originated in the Sicilian town of Castellammare del Golfo rose in rebellion under the leadership of Salvatore Maranzano.
Luciano and his allies appeared to remain neutral in the early days of the conflict. In fact, they were actively encouraging both sides and playing each off against the other. It was in the interest of the up-and-comers to have the old "Mustache Pete" Mafiosi kill each other off.
Eventually, Luciano was forced to take sides and joined the Masseria outfit. But even then he served as a double-agent for Maranzano. In April 1931, he set up a hit on Joe the Boss himself.
Anastasia reportedly served as one of the gunmen who, at Luciano's behest, entered Scarpato's Nuova Villa Tamaro restaurant at Coney Island and pumped lead into Masseria on April 15th. (Just two months later, Anastasia was granted permanent residence in the U.S. under the Registry Act of 1929. An illegal entry into the country barred others from citizenship, but Anastasia would find a way around the restrictions.)
Maranzano immediately declared himself boss of bosses, in the tradition of Morello, D'Aquila and Masseria. But the younger Mafiosi would not stand for any more meddling in their affairs. Maranzano was killed in his Park Avenue offices in September of 1931.
In the new order initiated by Luciano, Anastasia performed a dual role. He served as underboss to the Brooklyn family led by Vincent Mangano (D'Aquila's old organization). He also played an intermediary role between a ruling Mafia commission set up by Luciano and the enforcement wing that became known as Murder Inc. (The name of the enforcement group was apparently taken from a book written by former prosecutor Burton Turkus. However, Turkus clearly intended to apply the nickname "Murder, Inc." to the entire nationwide underworld syndicate he uncovered. He never used it as a proper name for the enforcement group.)
A group of killers on retainer, Murder Inc. was overseen by Louis "Lepke" Buchalter. The organization had member cells around the country. When a "hit" was ordered by the commission, a killer would be sent out to do the deed with an ice pick, a rope, a stiletto or a firearm. The ice pick was a favorite weapon. As effective as a stiletto, the pick could be found virtually everywhere in the days before home refrigerators. It was quick and easy to use and could not be linked in any meaningful way to its wielder.
This enforcement group was useful to the Mafia for two major reasons. First, by utilizing veteran assassins (the best apparently were drawn from the poor Jewish neighborhhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn), it assured that "hits" would not become misses. A level of professionalism was brought to the practice of murder. Second, law enforcement would be thwarted because the actual killer would have no relationship to the victim. Prosecutors would have great difficulty pinning the murder on the right party. Even when the perpetrator was caught, his motive would be largely a mystery.
Anastasia administered Murder Inc. at the Mafia commission level, where non-Italians like Buchalter were not permitted. Anastasia's leadership role in the group resulted in the nickname of "Lord High Executioner."
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