One of the earliest established Mafia Families in the United States was the criminal network that formed down in Tampa, Florida.
By the late 1800s to early 1900s, Italian immigrants from Sicily were drawn to the City of Tampa and a tight-knit “Little Italy”-type community soon developed.
Immigrating right along with these hard-working early Sicilian immigrants came a band of shadowy criminal figures from their homeland.
Among the very first mafiosi to ever “set up shop” in Tampa were members of the Antinori, Italiano, and Scaglione families, who were all mafiosi back in Sicily.
Other “men of honor” considered to be contemporaries included such iconic names as Santo Trafficante Sr., Alfonso Diecidue, and the Lazzara family.
In those early days, there were violent conflicts between Tampa’s competing racketeers as they gained a foothold in America. These were the first seeds laid down by the Sicilian Mafia as they took control of the city.
After a series of gangland murders, the smoke started to clear and a formal Family hierarchy was established.
Through the decades illicit rackets primarily consisted of unlicensed alcohol, narcotics smuggling and wholesale distribution, the Cuban numbers game known as Bolita, slot machines, and other forms of gambling like horse and sports bookmaking.
The Trafficante Family Begins
Despite the fact that they were now the most powerful force in Tampa’s underworld, what became known as the Trafficante Family still worked side and side and sometimes came into conflict with other ethnic criminal groups prominent in the city.