As the Hindenberg dramatically burned, the US government realised its ports were under grave threat from German attack as the Second World War approached its zenith. If the Pentagon and Navy couldn't get the information required, they would risk an unthinkable loss. Facing such danger, the authorities made a decision that would never have been sanctioned at any other time - it sought to solicit the help of the country's most high profile and criminal mafia bosses.
Could this historic and secret move, fraught with difficulties and dangers, help turn the tide. This title is based on a true story. All of our books are second hand, and while you may not get the exact copy shown in the picture, all of our books are in very good condition. Removing stickers from a book may damage it, so we refrain from doing so.
Luciano agreed to cooperate with authorities in hopes of consideration for early release from prison. Luciano was in Dannemora at the time, serving a 30 to year sentence for running a prostitution ring. For his cooperation he was moved to a more convenient and comfortable open prison in Great Meadows in May Operation Underworld Operation Underworld was the United States government's code name for the cooperation of Italian and Jewish organized crime figures from to to counter Axis spies and saboteurs along the U.
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Suspicion about Mafia sabotage in the fire and sinking of the Normandie renamed the Lafayette for war service , led to Operation Underworld In the first three months after the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, , the U. Italian American Mafia. Plainclothes Navy operatives descended upon the New York docks seeking information. With their best Jimmy Cagney impersonations, Ivy League-educated naval officers crept into the raucous haunts frequented by longshoremen.
The stevedores met the agents with a threatening brick wall of silence. The officers were incapable of understanding the lawless tight-lipped culture of the docks. On the wrong side of the law for most of their lives, some of the ship workers mistrusted anyone in uniform, whether they were naval officers or meter maids. To make matters worse, mob-controlled longshoremen regularly doled out gaff beatings to inquisitive cops and reporters. Only the American Mafia claimed an utter dominance of the docks. Time was running out for MacFall as the Navy moralized over the implications of enlisting the mob.
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Between February and May, Nazi torpedoes sent more than ships to the bottom, and the death toll was rising fast. In addition, there was the most serious concern over possible sabotage in the ports. It was necessary to use every possible means to prevent and forestall sabotage….
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ONI held strong reservations over an alliance with the Mafia. Could Italian criminals even be trusted? Judging by the example set by master of intrigue, Vito Genovese, probably not. After fleeing to Italy to avoid a murder prosecution in , Genovese grew close to Mussolini by befriending his son-in-law and foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano. The hoodlum grew so cozy with Il Duce that he soon dispatched his hitmen to assassinate New York newspaperman Carlo Tresca, a vocal critic of the Italian regime.
For his work, Mussolini awarded Genovese the Commendatore del Re, the highest civilian honor in Italy, but Genovese was as apolitical as he was amoral. Capable of shifting like a feather on the political winds, the wily mobster held a reputation for double-crossing friends with impunity. The gangster felt no affinity for the fascist dictator and saw him only as a means to an end. After weeks of intensive research, MacFall discovered that Genovese was an anomaly. The Mafia represented the most antifascist organization in the world. Many of the founding fathers of the American Mafia had fled their homeland because of the attacks.
Time had run out for the Navy. What followed the meeting was one of the most unusual episodes of the war, and it remained a secret until , when author Rodney Campbell uncovered the classified Herlands investigative report while organizing Governor Thomas E. Around him the commander assembled a dedicated team of colorful agents, many of them Italian-Americans versed in the Sicilian dialects spoken by the underworld.
Among these men were Lieutenant Anthony Marsloe, a man fluent in Italian, Spanish, and French; Lieutenant Joseph Treglia, a former bootlegger now in charge of breaking and entering operations; and Lieutenant Paul Alfieri, a safecracker. On March 25, Hogan and Gurfein offered Haffenden his first contact in organized crime.
A made member of the Luciano crime family, the hulking pound Mafia bulldozer earned his handle socking anyone who disagreed with his edicts. His criminal history stretched back to with arrests for homicide, burglary, conspiracy, and extortion. Has been one of the most accomplished terrorists in connection with labor racketeering in the lower east side Fulton Fish Market area. With a simple nod of his massive head, an entire fishing fleet would dump its catch to inflate market prices. For companies that failed to bribe the racketeer, their fish were left on the docks to rot.
Those who continued to disobey orders faced beatings, arson, and death. Officers of U. Naval Intelligence believed Lanza and his Mafia connections might help ferret out Nazi spies and sympathizers who were possibly connected to the resupply of German U-boats operating off the U. East Coast. If anyone was capable of ferreting out sailors supplying Nazi submarines, it was Joe Socks, but how could the Navy approach a man bound by the oath of omerta?
Haffenden knew a Navy officer stood little chance of penetrating the lawless fish market. Lanza needed to be careful. The hoodlum was currently on trial for extortion.
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During the meeting, Gurfein pleaded with Lanza. Many of our ships are being sunk along the Atlantic coast. We suspect German U-boats are being refueled and getting fresh supplies off our coast …You can find out how and where the submarines are being refueled. To their horror, the bugs recorded conversations detailing Navy-inspired mayhem that included assaults, break-ins, and possible murders.
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The next morning Lanza called his longtime associate Benjamin Espy, a former bootlegger who had served time in Lewisburg Penitentiary. Together the team questioned ship suppliers and demanded that any unusual purchases of food or fuel be reported to them. The two gangsters moved onto the vessels themselves and set up a network of fishermen to keep an eye out for submarines. Socks responded by providing valuable cards used for no-show payoff jobs.
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The agents of the B-3 investigative unit roved far and wide under the protective wing of La Cosa Nostra. They sailed aboard mackerel fleets bound for Maine, Florida, and Newfoundland. Shockingly, these fleets served as the first line of U.