real historical events. The Godfather by Mario Puzo is such a book in which Puzo portrays Mafia life and business starting at the late 40s. The Corleone crime Family in this novel is shown having troubles with the other organized crime syndicates concerning drugs. Many of the other families are pushing the idea of joining the narcotics market, however the Corleones do not want to intervene in such a disagreeable business. Much tension forms as mobster wars starts within the syndicates and most favor drugs. My purpose of this paper will be to analyze whether Mario Puzo the author of The Godfather , represents an accurate portrayal of narcotics as a major part of Mafia business. As the demand for illegal narcotics rose in the United States, it was the Mafia who would jump on it as they did all other illegal activities, such as gambling operations, prostitution, extortion, and loan sharking. The whole drawback to this was, from where could they get it.
Depending on what it was, it had to be found and brought in from over-seas. From Ecuador they could obtain opium poppies with which to make heroin, and virtually unlimited supply of coca leaves, with which to make cocaine from Bolivia and Peru. Plus their smuggling routes and expertise were solidly established. Hence, the first drug laboratories were established in Medellin, supposedly with Mafia money (Eddy and Hugo, 45). The New York Mafia as well as other American crime families, would buy the drugs from Colombian drug lords. One of the major Colombian syndicates- commonly referred to as the “Medellin Cartel”. As opposed to actuality, in the Godfather, poppies, mainly used to make heroin would be ha! rvested from Turkey (not the major supplier of opium in the 40s and 50s), then processed into heroin in Sicily. Drugs have been appealing to any crime syndicates since the Chinese crime world that started way back in the 1800s.
Opium was the number one wanted drug as wars started by the Ching Dynasty in 1839 to stop the illegal importation by smugglers form Britain (Britanica, 552). But why wouldnt any crime syndicate want to invest in illegal drugs as portrayed in The Godfather? Heroin these days for example, has been estimated that for approximately four hours each day three hundred sixty five days a year, four hundred dollars worth of heroin is sold every minute on one hundred and fifteenth street New York City resulting in a financial exchange amounting to twenty four thousand dollars an hour, ninety six thousand a day and six hundred seventy two thousand dollars a week. Annual gross sales of heroin alone exceed thirty billion a year.(Messerchmidt, Piers, 220). Of course many Mafia families would want to wager into such a profitable business as portrayed in The Godfather, the same is true about real life. However, in most crime families including the five New York families drugs were considered to be, as the Corleones put it “evil and inappropriate for the familys need” and most families in real life agreed to this unlike Mario Puzos novel, in which all the families except the Corleones wanted to enter drugs.
In 1931, a mob boss in Chicago by the name of Salvatore Maranzano made five “families” in New York City and five bosses as they called them to lead. The five in New York would belong to a ruling body, like a council, including such Chicago mob bosses as Al Capone, and New York bosses like Joe Bonano. La Cosa Nostra as it was called “this thing of ours”(Roemer, 63).
La Cosa Nostra was set up as the high council, it was in charge and had the last word in all of the major Mafia activities. La Cosa Nostra particularly the groups in New York, did not favor drugs they too felt it was not a right business for organized crime to go in to, it was dirty. Anyone caught dealing drugs or racketeering drugs, would be shot and killed.
In fact, involvement in narcotics in any way continues to be reason for severe disciplinary action from leadership should any member be caught. This was proven many times in the passed. Chris Cardi who was soon to be a “made Man” went where the money was- ! into dealing drugs. This was a strict violation of the strict edict of Tony Accardo(mob boss) and La Cosa Nostra. Chris Cardi Served his sentence after being caught, on July 14, 1975, he went inside Jims Beef Stand at 1620 North River Road in Melrose Park. Two ski-masked Gunmen snuck up behind Cardi, his wife and three kids.
They used .45s this time. Eight times in the back, naturally. Then for good measure, while the wife and kids screamed, they rolled him over and put one in his face. Tony Accardo was pleased.
“good job. That will teach anybody wants to go into drugs a good lesson.”(Roemer, 327). As one can see drugs were very tempting but was not permitted in the real Mafia life. Later drugs went out of hand and many “wise guys” wanted to make the extra money, even the superiors would want to get in on the action. For this reason in 1931 drugs were included in the oath of Omerta nobody in the honored society dealt drugs period(Roemer, 405). The Omerta ritual was a secret pledge that all newly “made men” would have to swear while holding the hand of his mob boss and swear never to cross anyone in his family, to keep “our thing” in good name and secrecy and to do all that his superiors tell him.
Such things as Omerta and Cosa Nostra were no mentioned in The Godfather and there was more of a disjunction and separation from all the other families. Since the 80s, there was much corruption in organized crime, syndicates have changed their ideas of staying away from drugs to investing more in it. This happened as the power of La Cosa Nostra diminished and was less strict.
The ritual of Omerta meant much less and many crime Families went into drugs despite the diminished authority of “The Committee”. There were much fewer crime bosses who resembled Don Corleone in Puzos book who was not opened to the idea of narcotics. One that too was not was Tony Accardo, William F. Roener the author of many true crime books wrote in 1987 in one of his books: Accardo has kept the Chicago outfit out of drugs. Where as other families or organized crime around the country have in recent years failed to resist the big temptationThis portrays exactly the personality of Don Corleone in Mario Puzos book The Godfather. More corruption within families are occurring and even the mob bosses and heads are getting involved.
John Gotti too did his amount of drug dealing despite higher authorities. Gotti would limit his exposure in heroin to investor and let the men he trusted most- Angelo, Gene, Willie Bay, Corneglia- do the dirty work on the condition that they never ever mentioned his name(Capeci, Mustain, 70). When John Gotti became Mafioso boss and he claimed that he would not deal with drugs and would punish anyone that went into it. The warnings however sounded as hollow as they did in the early 1970s, when Gotti assembled the Bergin crew and delivered an anti drug message from Carlo- at a time when everyone knew his brother Peter was dealing cocaine and Rampino, heroin.(Capeci, Mustain, 71).
Soon major drug operations were taking affect without the consent of the major Mafia bosses. “The Pizza Connection” case, extended to rural Illinois, where a pizza parlor like so many involved in ! this case across the country, dealt drugs. They were caught by the FBI and went to trial. The case began in 1984 when the justice department indicted thirty one people in the operation of this international drug ring. It was charged that in over five years the ring had brought into this country 1,650 pounds of heroin, with a street value of 1.
6 billion, then sold the drugs through pizza parlors in the Northeast and Midwest. The New York office found that the “Catalano faction” of the Bonano family, led by Salvatore Catalano , was deeply involved in massive heroin importation and distribution in the United States, all charged in the indictment later. Although Catalanos organization was located in New York City, the investigation by the FBI revealed that Catalanos heroin business was tied directly to organized criminal groups in Sicily.(Roemer, 406). Another way they would try to cover up or pay someone elsoe to do all of the work.
Delgiorno and other members of his family w! ould loan a drug dealer to finance the importation of fifty to a hundred gallons of p-z-p(pheno- two- propane, used to make a drug called Meth). Since Delgiorno dealt with loan sharking and this was a loan sharking deal it technically skirted the mob prohibition on dealing drugs.(Anastasia, 114). If any of these acts would have happened a decade earlier it would not have been let go so easily and all of these would have been punished by death.