Giuseppe (Joe) Ianni – aka Joseph Ianni – was born on August 23, 1913, in Calabria, Italy. He immigrated to the United States as a teenage boy with his parents Francesco and Marianna (nee’ Calabro) Ianni and his two sisters Frances and Evelyn.
Joe’s father Francesco, better known as Frank, was an early member of the Calabrian Mafia.
Upon entering the United States, the Ianni family settled in Dallas, Texas where Francesco had fellow “amici” and underworld contacts. This is where Frank Ianni and his family would establish themselves and live for the rest of their lives.
Joe Ianni stood 5-feet 6-inches tall and was slimly built at 145 pounds. He had dark brown eyes, a thick head of straight jet-black hair that turned salt-and–pepper by middle age, and a dark-olive Mediterranean complexion.
On February 10, 1945, Joe became a naturalized citizen of the United States in Dallas, Texas.
FBI #3426142, Dallas-TX PD#21660
As a young man, he married a local Italian girl in Dallas by the name of Maria (Marie) Elizabeth Pinto.
He and Marie soon had a daughter together and moved into a pretty ranch-style home at 5024 W. Stanford Avenue in Dallas.
Although he was literally born into the “tradition” and groomed very early on by his father to be a mafioso, by all accounts, Joe was also a very hard-working man who ran a successful Dallas restaurant with his dad.
For many years, father and son owned and operated the popular Vesuvio Restaurant located at 5120 West Lovers Lane in Dallas.
A High-Ranking Mafioso
Frank was a member of the local Mafia cosca who was suspected of having held at least a “capo di decina” rank, if not even a higher status, within the Joseph Civello Crime Family.
But regardless of any “official” position, Francesco Ianni was certainly one of the highest ranking mafiosi in the State of Texas.
Joe would eventually become a “made man” himself. He was thought to have been formally inducted to a “soldier” rank under his father’s sponsorship by at least the early 1950s.
Although Joe started his criminal record relatively late in life for a mafioso, at thirty-three years old, Ianni had a serious “rap sheet” dating back to 1946.
Over the years, he was arrested for Federal Liquor Law Violations, illegal bookmaking, and first-degree murder.
The Vesuvio Restaurant became notorious as a “home base” for the local Mafia.
FBI Agents also considered it a suspected primary contact point and meeting place for both local and out-of-state racket figures who conducted business with the Ianni family and other key members of the Civello Family leadership.
Federal and local law enforcement sources say the restaurant served for years as the underworld headquarters from which Frank and Joe Ianni ran a large interstate gambling and narcotics trafficking operation.
Close Connections and Lifelong Friendships
Frank maintained close connections and lifelong friendships with many fellow Calabrian racketeers.
In particular, Ianni was known to be very close with a top New York City-based Genovese Family caporegime named Rocco (The Old Man) Pellegrino of Westchester County.
It is alleged that this relationship served both Mafia networks very well over the years.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) both say this enabled Ianni to conduct a “New York to Dallas” interstate narcotics-smuggling ring that steadily supplied the Joseph Civello Family with multi-kilo loads of heroin for redistribution throughout the States of Texas and Louisiana.
The relationship between the Pellegrino and Ianni families was so close, in fact, that years later, Rocco Pellegrino’s son Peter even relocated to Texas for a time to help organize and conduct a large sports and horse bookmaking business the two fathers put in place for their sons.
Among other mafiosi Joe and his dad associated with included Family boss Giuseppe (Joe) Civello himself, his cousin Leon Civello, underboss Rosario (Ross) Musso, capo Biagio (Big Angelo) Angelica, capo Vincent Vallone, and soldiers Louis Marino, Victor Maddi, and Joseph (Joe Luke) Lucca.
They were also intimate with top New Orleans mafiosi such as boss Carlos Marcello, capo Anthony S. Carolla, and former boss Silvestro (Silver Sam) Carolla.
Until next time…”The Other Guy”