From at least the early 1910s, a variety of racketeers were operating within the City of St. Louis, Missouri. By the “Roaring Twenties” and the advent of Prohibition, the city was rife with organized gangs of bootleggers, strong-arms, thieves, and other types of hoodlums.
Criminals and hoodlums of varied ethnicities were all actively plundering various sections of St. Louis, the Italian criminal underworld among them. A fledgling group known as “The Green Ones” were indeed among the first criminal seeds and vestiges of what would later become an officially recognized Mafia “Family” over the city’s criminal fraternity.
Through the years, the St. Louis Mafia or “Outfit” included such notorious figures as the deported Francesco (Three-Finger Frank) Coppola, Vincenzo (Sugar Vince) Filippello, Francesco (Frank) Agrusa, Anthony (Tony the Pip) Lopiparo, and Raffaele (Shorty) Caleca, to name but a few.
And although they would never gain the national prominence of some of their contemporaries such as their Missouri counterparts in Kansas City, the Chicago Mob, or the Joseph Zerilli Family of Detroit, despite a small Family membership, nonetheless, the St. Louis crowd, under the auspices of Family boss Anthony (Tony G) Giordano were able to hold their own and control several lucrative criminal operations within the city for many decades.
Money-making activities included two large interlocking horse and sports bookmaking rings that collectively were said to gross over $25,000,000 annually, a thriving policy-numbers business, and other forms of illicit gambling rackets. Other activities Tony Giordano and his membership engaged in included a decades-long international narcotics smuggling ring and wholesale distribution network they developed over the years that supplied several midwestern and southern Mafia Families with pure heroin and morphine, which was brought in directly by their associates from France and Italy.
In later years, through their connections with other borgatas, they partnered in the infiltration and hidden control over several Las Vegas casinos that allowed them to participate in a years-long “skimming” operation that defrauded the Internal Revenue Service of millions of dollars in untaxed casino profits.
By the 1950s, Federal and local law enforcement had identified the two top men governing the St. Louis “Outfit” as boss, Anthony Giordano, and his partner and reputed underboss, John J. Vitale. In league with a half-dozen other top Family figures, these men were considered to be the racketeers in control of the city’s underworld.
The Giordano Family and its membership first came under fire and public scrutiny during the so-called Kefauver U.S. Senate Hearings conducted during 1950-1951. Headed by Senator Estes Kefauver, his “Rackets Committee” traveled around the country visiting various cities and conducting televised hearings into the underworld’s control over gambling and other rackets.
Despite the bad press and media exposure, Tony Giordano went on to head the St. Louis “Outfit” for another three decades. After his death, his former underboss Johnny Vitale assumed the mantle of power. In later years, Giordano’s nephews Jimmy Giammanco and Mike Trupiano were said to have risen up into the Family hierarchy.