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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Charles Luciano - Lucky Luciano

Charles Luciano (November 11, 1896January 26, 1962), better known as Lucky Luciano, was a legendary mobster with a long criminal history. Luciano is considered the father of the Modern Crime Syndicate and the mastermind of the massive postwar expansion of the international heroin trade.

World War II

During WWII, America needed new allies to advance its invasion of Sicily and Italy, so the U.S. government is reported to have covertly made a deal with Luciano, who was by then imprisoned. U.S. military intelligence was aware that Luciano had maintained good connections in the Sicilian and Italian Mafia, which had been severely persecuted under Fascism in Italy.

Related Topics:
WWII - Sicily - Italy - Italian Mafia - Fascism

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Luciano was an American devoted to Sicily, the Mafia, and the USA alike. His help was sought in providing Mafia assistance to counter possible Axis infiltration on U.S. waterfronts, and his connections in Italy and Sicily were tapped to furnish intelligence and ensure an easy passage for U.S. forces as they moved up through the Italain peninsula. Both during and after the war, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies reputedly also used Luciano's Mafia connections to root out Communist influence in resistance groups and local governments.

Related Topics:
Sicily - Mafia - USA - Axis

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In return for his cooperation, it is claimed that Luciano was permitted to run his crime empire unhindered from his jail cell, and that during the 1940s, he used to meet US military men during train trips throughout Italy, and he enjoyed being recognized by his countrymen, several times taking photos and even signing autographs for them.

Related Topics:
1940s - US military - Italy - Autograph

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In 1946, as part of the payoff for his cooperation, he was paroled on the condition that he leave the United States and return to Italy. He accepted the deal, although he had maintained during his trial that he was a native of New York City and was therefore not subject to deportation, but was deeply hurt about having to leave the USA, a country he had considered his own ever since his arrival at age ten. Later that year, he flew to Cuba for the Havana Conference, where he retook control of the American syndicate. At the meeting, Luciano ordered the execution of Siegel, who had cost the Mafia millions by opening money-losing casinos in Las Vegas. When the US government learned of Luciano's presence in the Caribbean he was forced to fly back to Italy.

Related Topics:
1946 - New York City - USA - Cuba - Havana Conference - Las Vegas - Caribbean

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According to drug trade expert Dr Alfred W. McCoy, during the 1950s Luciano forged a crucial alliance with the Corsican Mafia, who were reputed to be even tougher and more dangerous than the Sicilians. This new super-syndicate oversaw a massive increase in the production, refining and distribution of heroin, which had been all but eliminated as an addiction problem during World War II. Using opium sourced mainly from Turkey, heroin was refined and distributed via an elaborate network based in the Corsican Mafia stronghold of Marseilles in France.

Related Topics:
Dr Alfred W. McCoy - Corsican Mafia - Heroin - World War II - Turkey - Marseilles - France

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Heroin soon began flooding into America and Europe, making notable inroads into vulnerable areas such as the American jazz scene, thanks to the Mafia's increasing takeover of music venues and other facets of the entertainment industry.

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During the 1960s, after Luciano died, Turkey began to eliminate its opium production, but thanks to connections with Corsican Mafiosi in the former French colony of Vietnam and new alliaces with organised crime groups in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Australia, the syndicate was able to establish a huge new cultivation, refining and distribution base in the Golden Triangle region of Asia. Exploiting the chaotic conditions that prevailed during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the syyndicate vastly increased the scale of its operations. One of its most devastating ploys was the introduction of heroin use among the hundreds of thousands of American troops stationed in the region at that time.

Related Topics:
Vietnam - Shanghai - Hong Kong - Australia - Golden Triangle - Vietnam War

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The syndicate was stunningly successful in its efforts, and within months of its first appearance among GIs, it was in widespread use. By 1971 alarm bells were ringing in the military, with American army medical officers in South Vietnam worriedly reporting that up to 15% of soldiers in some units had admitted being regular heroin users. By this time, some U.S. reporters were also beginning to file disturbiing reports alleging high-level corruption in the Vietnamese military and government, and the use of drug money by Vietnamese politicians to fund their election campaigns.

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According to McCoy, the opportunistic alliances forged between the drug cartel and the C.I.A. saw the U.S. effectively turn a blind eye to the heroin syndicates in return for assistance in its obsessive fight against Communism in the region. The result of this confluence of events was that, with the withdrawal of forces in the early 1970s, the rampant heroin problem among G.I.s was simply repatriated back to the U.S.A., leading to an unprecedented explosion of heroin addiction in western nations.

Related Topics:
C.I.A. - Communism

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