This is part two of a ButtonGuys exclusive on various members and associates of the American underworld who migrated down to the State of Florida as visitors and vacationers and later became part-time or full-time residents of the Sunshine State. Most brought their underworld rackets and mob expertise along with them.
By 1969, local police forces in both Dade and Broward Counties became increasing nervous as they started noticing a heavier influx of racketeers into the area than normal. After surveilling and tracking their moments, both local Sheriffs Departments soon requested an increase in monies and resources to better combat this growing problem.
As Sheriff Purdy observed, “As long as these people are breathing our air they are a threat to the public and a threat to our area.” Purdy said. His fellow local law enforcement partner Sheriff McMillan said, “Any place these men go, they leave their mark. We will be trying to keep an eye on their movements as far as our manpower permits and as we feel that we have additional intelligence information indicating the areas of their activity.”
They also took note of longtime Tampa-St. Petersburg crime boss Santo Trafficante Jr., having become a permanent resident of Miami. Whereas years earlier he had mostly confined his activities to the northern part of the state, only occasionally visiting the Miami area. They watched as he bought a private home in Dade County, and was now conducting his mob affairs and had made his headquarters in the Miami area.
They announced the formation of a new ‘Organized Crime Control Bureau’ to help combat the mob and try to stem the tide of this pervasive underworld infiltration into local rackets and the area’s legitimate businesses. One additional member of the Sheriff’s Intelligence Unit said, “Anywhere they are there’s trouble, and we don’t need anymore trouble.”
For their part, legions of mafiosi and their associates were coming in from the far reaches of the cold northern states of New England, Buffalo, New York City, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and elsewhere.
From the midwest, mob guys were flying in from such cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and other states as well. South Florida was becoming a very popular place among the bent-nose set. Law enforcement viewed this influx of hoodlums and racketeers as nothing less than an underworld invasion.
These men represented a literal “who’s who” in the Mafia.
In the first part of our expose we had named over 62 known mafia figures and top racketeers. We documented such iconic hoodlums as New Jersey boss, Simone (Sam the Plumber) DeCavalcante, Pittsburgh capo Gabriel (Kelly) Mannarino and his brother Sam, Detroit capo Joe Massei, former Cleveland boss Al (Big Al) Polizzi, the infamous Meyer Lansky, his mentor and close associate Vincent (Jimmy Blue Eyes) Alo, and Genovese Family acting boss Gerardo (Jerry) Catena as settling into the area.
In ‘Part II’ of our story, we identify through thumbnail profiles an additional 38 mobsters who chose to make South Florida their new playground and home, as well as over 150 more hoodlums named at the bottom of this page. Miami and its adjoining areas was designated ‘open territory’ as far as mafia operations go. Any borgata or mob members across the United States had the right to conduct racket activities there. No one Family had exclusive rights to the Sunshine State. So many mobsters took full advantage of that underworld doctrine.