I’m guessing you guys thought the Italian mafia was a thing of the past. You thought we were like the dinosaurs, creatures that walked the Earth and preyed on guys like you, and then just went extinct.
You should have known better…We never went anywhere. We just became ghosts, ghouls, wise guys that you once wrote stories about, guys you made famous in the movies. But “This Thing of Ours”, never stopped, we just went underground, and got much better at avoiding detection.
We kinda realized that bloodied bodies splattered on the streets were bad for business. We quit beefing with each other all the time and said “fuggedaboutit” a lot. The wise guys got wiser, and you, my good friends, were none the wiser…and then…and then it all went to hell. The once extinct dinosaurs became hidden in plain sight. Let me explain.
The life of a wise guy in Italian mafia
My name is James “Jimmy” Ardizzone, and on account of me being blind in one eye after a fight with some schmuck in a bar, I got the nickname, “One-eyed Jimmy.” I had that fight before I joined the mafia, but I caught up with the guy later. He’s now resting at the bottom of the Hudson in a pair of cement shoes.
You don’t think that still happens? Oh, if you only knew how many missing persons were people whose location we know all about.
I was born in the late 90s on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. That’s New York City to all you guys on the other side of the world. There was nothing special about my childhood. My ma worked part-time in a local bakery, and my pa did double shifts as a warehouse packer.
In the great scheme of things, we were poor, but not dirt poor. My folks are good people, they’re honest, down to Earth, hard working citizens. But night shifts and calloused hands, for what, to pay the rent and pay off debts, that wasn’t for me.
First hearing of the Italian mafia
I first heard about mafia stuff during that “Pizza Connection” thing that happened back in the late 80s, you know, when a bunch of our guys got done for selling huge amounts of heroin and cocaine from pizza parlors. My pa told me all about it. He even knew guys that were involved in it.
You know what, those damned feds had hundreds of wiretap conversations. Wise guys acting like shmucks, talking on the phone about trafficking and murder like we’d talk about our kids’ birthdays.
Wiretaps…try that now, and see where you get.
When I was coming up in the 2000s, when we did business, we did it face to face. We even covered our mouths at times just in case any cameras were on us and someone might try and read our lips. We were careful, very careful, but as I said, it all went to hell.
Let me tell you about that, and then I’ll tell you something about the work I currently do.
Being careful didn’t work for the big boss
You see, in 2019, we lost our boss, and I mean the real boss, the head of the Gambino crime family. That was one Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali. He was the man, the main man, and he was what you might call the mainline to Italy’s Sicilian mafia. The guy had blood ties over there, and that was good for business.
Seeing our guys dead on the streets had become a thing of the past before that happened, long gone were the days we slit guys’ throats in a barber’s chair or we riddled cars with bullets.
The thing is guys, we really stuck to that peace agreement for the most part…we remained ghosts…but then when Franky Boy’s body was found with seven bullet holes in him outside his Staten Island home, we kind of came into focus again.
At first, everyone thought this had to be us, whacking a boss. That’s not a small thing, as you know, and since business was good, why would anyone want to clip the big man?
We had no idea who’d done it. Had the word been sent from Italy? Was it another New York family? Was it the Russians? It made no sense, we had good business with all organized crime and taking out a crime boss would cause a war. A boss hadn’t been clipped since the 80s for God’s sake.
The media put Italian mafia in a spotlight
It turned out the hitman was just some kid, a jamoke (idiot) from Staten Island who thought Franky Boy was somehow involved with that thing called the Deep State. That’s a term for the alleged invisible hands behind the government. The kid thought killing Franky would somehow save the President from this secret cabal of powerful people. Can you get any crazier than that?
Before they knew it was the jabroni that did the hit, the media started shooting off its mouth, asking if the Five Families were once again at war. So-called experts on organized crime said there were rifts between Franky and the Gotti family, the previous bosses of the Gambino crime family.
Experts…experts telling tall stories, that’s all they were. At least some cops said a hit like that is not how the Mafia does things. Outside a boss’s house, c’mon, we have more respect than that.
We’ve been in the spotlight since then, and that means I’ve had to be extra careful. That damn lunatic kid has caused us a lot of trouble.
Italian mafia is still into trafficking drugs
I’d been working occasionally with the Mexicans, mostly getting babania or heroin and cocaine, to you, and moving it in the U.S. or abroad. That’s the thing with the drug business, it doesn’t dry up. Americans are avid consumers and there’s always a market here.
I’ve always wondered why such a developed nation wants so badly to get out of it all the time. Pursuit of happiness…pursuit of High-ness more like.
The war on drugs can set you back a bit, but never for long. We call it the War on Schmucks, because once they’re locked up we can still get the stuff to them. Ok, they got El Chapo locked up, and look what happened after that. That’s what they call a “Pyrrhic victory”… look that up if you don’t know what it means.
So, there are about 3,000 of us in the U.S. or thereabouts, and a lot of us are in New York. As one writer said, all Mafia activity leads back to New York.
Italian mafia moved up from murdering and racketeering
No longer is our “bread and butter” just murder and racketeering, but we still do the odd bit of extortion. Our other main enterprises are illegal gambling and loan-sharking…and like I said, feeding people’s insatiable appetite for drugs, mainly heroin, but a bit of coke and at times ice and ecstasy.
Sure, we’ve got old school ventures, like running strip clubs, but we’ve got modern, too.
That illegal gambling we do, the operations are all online and we keep our money off-shore in shell companies like all the rich folks do. To make sure our gambling websites aren’t closed down, we operate them from countries where they are legal, such as Costa Rica.
The bets are made in the U.S….we use multiple servers in Costa Rica, and then cash goes off-shore. FEDs, stick that up your culo.
We’ve used Craigslist, too, to find young women who we then trafficked into various states to work as prostitutes.
Involved in prostitution
I’ve actually done something like this in New York. I recruited a pretty woman, and then I put an ad on Craigslist. When she got the message, I took her to her client. I kept half the cash, of course. If you think because personal ads were banned we can no longer do this, think again, there are ways of getting those ads on the site. Anyway, that kind of thing isn’t really a big earner, it’s more like a hobby.
Yep, that doesn’t sound quite as grand as what happened in the Godfather, but sometimes you gotta make ends meet. We can still do things like offer protection, but it’s not like we go into places guns-blazing anymore.
Still offering protection
I’ll give you an example.
Let’s say we’ve got a guy running a heroin business out of a pizza parlor – you didn’t think we’d just stop all that, did you – and then some wannabe street gangsters clean the guy out one day.
Well, we then tell the guy that on top of the cost of the drugs, there’s a protection cost, too. Hey, maybe we paid those gangsters to do him over. The outcome is he won’t get his stuff taken again and we get more money.
The same goes for regular folks. Let’s say their store keeps getting held up, and or their factories somehow seem to keep getting broken into, their trucks stolen, etc. Well, we can make that stop, because we were the ones doing it in the first place. That’s what you might call protection-extortion. We make those guys an offer they simply can’t refuse.
Has hands in construction gigs
Then we’ve still got some of the construction unions. We get involved in the unions, and then start making money by controlling the materials the construction company needs. We’ll start our own union if one doesn’t exist.
We can then start siphoning off funds, or create benefits schemes and then defraud benefit fund assets. It’s a sweet deal, but to be honest, this is one area where the authorities have won the war.
Saying that, every time you see a building going up in New York City, bear in mind we might have sub-contractors on that job or have a union behind the workers. We get huge kickbacks from these massive construction projects.
What does Italian mafia do with all that money?
But what do we do with all our ill-gotten gains? Well, as I said, we keep our money off-shore, but we also buy real estate through third-parties, and we’ve even done our bit for the environment in Europe. Ever heard of the “Eco-Mafia’?
You see, wind energy is all the rage in Europe, but the industry is not that regulated. Thanks to our beloved deceased boss, Franky Boy, and his connections in Italy, we’ve been able to launder money into the wind energy industry in Europe.
We’ve even muscled out our competition in Europe, and taken over a good chunk of the industry. Not bad eh, for a bunch of guys that used to shoot each other over squabbles and talk business on the telephone.
We’ve also been able to launder cash and make cash through Italy since those Sicilians own hundreds and hundreds of restaurants and bars and cafes in Europe. Make no mistake, those wise guys in Sicily still have a lot of power.
Ok, back to basics.
Still making people disappear
We might not do hits in the street anymore, but mark my words, if you have the cash and you want someone gone, we can make them go missing, at a cost of course. We might take out a knucklehead who’s been getting in the way of our drugs business, or we might secretly take out one of our own affiliates if he’s not doing what he’s been told to do.
We work with other organized crime, such as the Japanese Yakuza, the Russian mafia, the Albanian mafia, and the Chinese Triads, and for the most part, things run smoothly. Then you’ve got disorganized crime, what you might call street gangs, and we try our best not to get involved.
Talking about my main job, let’s say I want some opioids on the streets, maybe some Fentanyl. Well, through my connections with the Chinese Triads I can get that from China to the USA.
If you want ecstasy, well, I’ve got my man in Amsterdam. Take out one Sammy the Bull, and there’s a man very happy to take his place and there are millions of American ravers waiting with open hands.
You could say I am in charge of operations. And the drugs operation is one of our biggest money-spinners. I don’t need Mexicans for all my drug business, far from it.
How does Italian mafia drug trade take place?
Some of the raw opium is produced in Pakistan and Turkey or parts of South East Asia. It’s then refined into morphine in countries where corruption is rife. Local politicians, police, the army, you name it, all take a cut. Just look at what that Thai politician said, the one who was arrested for heroin trafficking back in the day, he said he’d been working with soldiers.
So, I use these corrupt countries and then the Sicilian Mafia can get it over to America where I will collect and distribute. I get involved with the cocaine trade, but heroin and other opioids are my bread and butter. There are just too many hands in the cocaine business. Plus, being connected to gangs such as the Mexican Mafia or MS-13 is just not our style.
We did deals for a while with the Mexicans, and trafficked cocaine back to the Sicilians for European consumption, but since Franky Boy, the darling of the Sicilians, was taken out by that paranoid bonehead, that’s kinda fallen flat on its back.
Trying to stay under the radar
We are not animals, we are highly organized now, in spite of what you might have seen on the Sopranos. Like the Russians, or the Chinese, we keep our heads down. If violence has to happen, it will, but we’ll try and make people go missing rather than leave blood on the streets.
Ok, so we made a mess of a prison cell when we took out the grass James “Whitey” Bulger but that only goes to show we stand by our code of conduct and we’ll get you if you cross us. If snitches get stitches inside prison, for us, rats get splattered.
As one of my colleagues, a captain in New York, said recently in an interview, “In this life, there are three choices: you can rat, you can go to jail, or you can die. That’s the only way you get out. There is no quitting.”
That says it all, really, we haven’t gone anywhere because when you get into this life there’s no getting out. We just don’t make the headlines because we eke away in the background, trying to keep things friendly and usually staying away from the violence that comes with crime.
I know we’re still under the radar, but when you look at what’s happening down at the border, we think the authorities have got much bigger fish to fry.