Stream It Or Skip It: ‘World’s Most Wanted’ On Netflix, A Docuseries About The Planet’s Most Notorious (And Elusive) Criminals

The five-episode first season of World’s Most Wanted discusses five notorious criminals from around the world, the heinous crimes they committed, and why they’ve been so hard to capture. The first segment, directed by Paul Moreira, is devoted to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, the brains in charge of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Opening Shot: “SINALOA MOUNTAINS, MEXICO.” A shot of the brown and green terrain of the Sinaloa Mountains. “FEBRUARY 13th, 2014”.

The Gist: Most people know about the Sinaloa cartel, based in the Mexican state of the same name, from Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is currently serving a life sentence at a supermax federal prison in Colorado. But El Chapo was merely the face of Sinaloa, the salesman who went out and made the massive deals that sent the cartel’s product throughout North America. El Mayo was the one who was in charge of the cartel’s business affairs, and kept a far lower profile than his literal partner in crime.

Through interviews with retired DEA agents that were assigned to bring down Sinaloa, as well as Mexican journalists who covered the cartels closely, we get a picture of El Mayo, who never did anything that could directly tie him to a sale or any other criminal activity, often acting through intermediaries. He drove pickup trucks, and even soldiers who are in the field — some of which are also interviewed, albeit with their faces covered — never were even allowed to refer to him by name.

The first episode documents how both El Mayo’s brother and son managed to get captured by Mexican authorities, and how the DEA pretty much put Mayo’s son, Vicente Zambada Niebla, between a rock and a hard place: A life sentence or give up operational details of Sinaloa. Through intermediaries, the feds got El Mayo on the phone, who told his son to do what he has to do to preserve his family. That’s why Vincente got only 15 years. But hundreds of Sinaloa bigwigs got rounded up, and Vincente’s information led to El Chapo’s recapture. However, El Mayo is still at large and Sinaloa still operates, to the point where, in 2019, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that he was looking for peace with the cartels instead of war.

World's Most Wanted
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Our Take: We were wondering why the first episode of World’s Most Wanted was about El Mayo; after all, it’s not like Netflix isn’t full of shows, both fictional and factual, about Mexican narcos and the law enforcement officials who were after them. It felt like the episode was running over information that can be found elsewhere. In fact, we’re pretty sure that one of the ex-DEA agents interviewed, Jack Reily, has been on other docuseries explaining how the feds went after the cartels.

Because of this, the first episode held little in the way of surprising information. But the episode moved quickly, with lots of archival shots of bloody bodies and shootouts, including the raids that got various cartel bigwigs. What we’re hoping is that the combination of fast-paced editing along with well-sourced archival footage will help the show’s other episodes shine.

The other episodes examine the man who was the financier of the Rawandan genocide, the last boss in the Cosa Nostra crime organization, the White Widow, and a notorious Russian mafia boss. Those four cases are a bit less familiar to North American audiences than El Mayo’s case was, and it should elicit more interesting and informative episodes than the first one was.

Sex and Skin: Nothing.

Parting Shot: El Mayo’s soldiers make meth, and the leader says that no matter who gets arrested, someone else will always be there to take his place, and SInaloa will just get stronger.

Sleeper Star: None.

Most Pilot-y Line: For a show that’s rated TV-14, there is an awful lot of archival footage of bloodied bodies and people hanging from bridges. Not sure how seeing that much gore only rates a TV-14.

Our Call: STREAM IT. We’re giving World’s Most Wanted a marginal recommendation because it’s slickly edited and does have great archival footage. We’re hoping, though, that the other episodes are more interesting and less repetitive than the first one was.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast,, Billboard and elsewhere.

Stream World’s Most Wanted On Netflix

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Leonardo Badalamenti, 60, son of ex-mafia boss, Gaetano Badalamenti, arrested

Leonardo Badalamenti, 60, son of top 1970s Sicilian mafia boss, Gaetano Badalamenti, was arrested on Wednesday in Sicily. The Italian police said they were acting on a Brazilian international arrest warrant.

Badalamenti is wanted by the Brazilian government for bank fraud and drug trafficking, crimes he committed in the country using an alias. He has been on the run since 2017.

After his arrest at his mother’s house in the city of Castellammare del Golfo, he was taken to a Palermo prison where he will await extradition.

This is not the first arrest for Leonardo. In 2009 he was arrested in Sao Paulo, Brazil after his thwarted plan to use fake Venezuelan bonds to obtain credit lines totaling $2.2 billion from HSBC Holdings Plc, Bank of America Corp. and unidentified British banks.

His father, Gaetano “Don Tano” Badalamenti, became infamous in the organized crime world after ordering the 1978 hit on Peppino Impastato, an outspoken anti-mafia journalist. He was also the boss of the Sicilian Mafia Commission.

In the 1980s, after a mafia war was started by Salvatore “Toto” Riina and his Corleone clan to assume sole control of organized crime, Don Tano moved his whole family to Brazil.

In 1987, Gaetano Badalamenti was convicted of drug trafficking in the United States in the “Pizza Connection” case. He was sentenced to 45-years in prison where he died in 2004 at the age of 80.

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Chicago Mafia Bigwig Fat Mike Sarno Gunning For Early Release From Prison On COVID-19 Concerns

August 5, 2020 – Jailed Chicago mob boss Michael (Fat Mike) Sarno is seeking a reprieve from his 25-year federal prison sentence for extortion because of the Coronavirus. Sarno, 62, has an array of physical ailments and wants to come home 12 years early on a compassionate release. His attorney filed the motion Monday.

Last month, U.S. District Court Henry Leinenweber let Chicago Outfit soldier Mario (The Arm) Rainone out of prison eight years early on an identical motion. The 65-year old Rainone was convicted on a gun charge.

Sarno ran the Outfit on a day-to-day basis from 2005 until he was found guilty of fire-bombing a rival video-poker machine company in Berwyn, Illinois at a December 2010 trial. The motion for compassionate release lists lung, liver, prostate, gallbladder and high blood pressure issues. Due to the need for a double knee replacement, the motion reads, Sarno is confined to a wheelchair.

Hailing from the Chicago mob’s Cicero regime, Sarno came up under deceased Outfit capo Ernest (Rocky) Infelise. Sarno was busted with Infelise’s “Good Ship Lollipop” crew in 1990 and did seven years behind bars for racketeering. He took command of the Cicero crew in around 2000.

Following Chicago mob street boss James (Jimmy the Man) Marcello being nailed in the landmark Operation Family Secrets bust, Sarno was given the post. According to federal records, Sarno is suspected of ordering the 2006 kidnapping and murder of Outfit underboss Anthony (Little Tony) Zizzo, Marcello’s No. 2. Sarno and Zizzo were feuding over video-poker machine routes.

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Ponytail Tony Parrillo Can’t Find Relief From R.I. High Court, Providence Mafia Figure’s Assault Case Stands

August 2, 2020 — The Supreme Court of Rhode Island recently upheld Providence mobster Anthony (Ponytail Tony) Parrillo’s 2015 assault conviction. Parrillo, 69, was found guilty at a bench trial for ordering the December 2011 beatdown of a man in a case of mistaken identity at Club 295 in Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood. He’s serving a 10-year sentence in state prison

A convicted murderer and reputed high-ranking member of organized crime in New England, Parrillo operated out of the now-shuttered Club 295 in the late 2000s and early 2010s. On December 17, 2011, he had his bouncers throttle a patron named Jack Fernandes in an alley outside the establishment because he thought Fernandes had stabbed one of his employees.

In actuality, Fernandes was enjoying a night out on the town with his wife, Dr. Sumiya Majeed and was misidentified as the culprit by club security as he using the bathroom. Minutes earlier, a man had been caught having sex in the same bathroom stall Fernandes was occupying and attacked a security guard with a knife. According to court files, Parrillo restrained Majeed while Fernandes was pummeled.

Fernandez was taken to the hospital with a broken nose and several cracked ribs. The incident ended when Parrillo called his men off, reportedly saying, “Stop, no more right now, there’s too many people around, we’ll get him later.”

Months before the assault at his club in 2011, Parrillo was arrested for harassing his ex-wife. Back in 1982, he was found guilty of gangland double homicide and did a little more than a decade in prison. Parrillo killed Providence drug dealer Ronnie Leone and Leone’s friend Rudy Baronet in October 1977 in retaliation for Leone ripping Parrillo off in a cocaine deal. Baronet had driven Leone to the Parrillo’s house where they both were slaughtered.

Upon his release from prison in 1993, Parrillo went to work as a personal bodyguard and collector for Patriarca crime family underboss Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio. He also secured his Teamsters union card and linked up with Providence filmmakers the Farrelly brothers, finding employment on their movie sets as a driver. Parrillo worked on the films, There’s Something About Mary (1998), Outside Providence (1999), Me, Myself and Irene (2000), Osmosis Jones (2001) and Stuck on You (2003). On the Outside Providence set, Parrillo acted as actor Alec Baldwin’s bodyguard. On the Me, Myself and Irene set, he did the same for actor Jim Carrey.

Per sources on the street and in law enforcement, Parrillo rose to consigliere of the New England mob before his Club 295 troubles derailed his ascent up the ladder of the Patriarca clan. Some local mob experts, point to Parrillo as a potential future boss or underboss of the borgata.

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Stanfa Era Bomb Maker In Philly Mob Won’t Be Receiving Early Release From RICO Case

August 2, 2020 – Mob explosives expert Salvatore Brunetti was denied his request for compassionate release by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Kearney in Philadelphia last week, ruling Brunetti’s violent history outweighs his health risk to the COVID-19 virus in deciding to keep him locked up.

The 73-year old Brunetti was a bomb-maker in the unstable John Stanfa regime of the Philly-New Jersey mafia of the 1990s and went down with the Sicilian don in a March 1994 RICO case. He’s slated for release in 2028.

Brunetti was one of a number of Stanfa soldiers assigned to kill upstart mob star Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino during a mob war pitting the young, cocky Merlino and his crew of childhood buddies against an isolated and out-of-touch Stanfa, who was appointed boss of Philadelphia by New York’s Gambino crime family but was never able to get the entire rank and file in-line behind him.

Court records tie Brunetti to plots to murder both Merlino and his then underboss Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone throughout 1992 and 1993. Brunetti planned separate attacks on Merlino and his crew, one in which he plotted to use explosives, another when he thought poisoning a Merlino beverage with cyanide was the best route to go and another pair where he attempted and then aborted to shoot Merlino and Mazzone as they attended a wake at a funeral parlor.

Brunetti was sentenced to 40 years behind bars and is being housed in a New Jersey prison. Stanfa, 79, got life and is serving his time in a Pennsylvania federal correctional facility.

Skinny Joey Merlino, 58, just walked free from a two-year prison sentence on a federal gambling conviction. He’d been in a South Florida halfway house since last fall. Merlino took over the Philly mafia in the wake of Stanfa going away in his ’94 RICO bust and hasn’t relinquished the reins yet, according to federal authorities. Upon getting released from a racketeering conviction of his own in 2011, Skinny Joey relocated to Boca Raton, deciding to continue running the Bruno-Scarfo crime family through buffers, intermediaries and street bosses.

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An Ailing “Lefty” Partee Takes Shot At Freedom, Motown Street Legend Files For Compassionate Release

August 1, 2020 – Superfly era Detroit gangland figure Robert (Lefty) Partee, one of the oldest inmates in the Michigan Department of Corrections and most respected names on the streets of the Motor City even to this day despite having spent for the last four decades behind bars, is filing a motion for compassionate release. The 80-year old Lefty Partee penned the brief himself and is requesting a medical discharge from his first-degree murder sentence based on a respiratory illness predisposing him to the COVID-19 virus.

In the 1970s, Partee was a feared enforcer for crime lord Francis (Big Frank Nitti) Usher, his first cousin and boss of Detroit’s Black mob, known as the Murder Row crew. He was convicted for being one of the shooters in the famous 1979 Michigan Federated Democratic Club Massacre, a triple murder where the victims were beheaded amidst internal strife in Big Frank Nitti’s organization.

Usher was found guilty for playing a role in the massacre at his first trial, but acquitted in a 1994 retrial after having the conviction tossed on appeal. The 78-year old Big Frank Nitti, nicknamed by Italian mobsters in Detroit as a reference to “Scarface Al” Capone’s underboss, Frank (The Enforcer) Nitti in Chicago during Prohibition and a memorable character in the 1960s television show The Untouchables, died of a massive stroke this week.

Backed and financed by Detroit’s Tocco-Zerilli crime family, Usher’s Murder Row gang controlled drugs, gambling, prostitution and extortion in several African-American neighborhoods across the city. Usher was mentored in the rackets by the Giacalone brothers (Detroit mob street bosses “Tony Jack” & “Billy Jack”, who gave him his start) and the Giacalone crew used Usher and Murder Row for muscle work.

According to FBI documents, on the afternoon of July 18, 1979, Murder Row street boss Adolph (Doc Holliday) Powell summoned Usher and two of his lieutenants, William (Little Dirty) McJoy and William (The Straw Hat) Jackson, to Powell’s headquarters at the Michigan Federated Democratic Social Club in the midtown section of Detroit for a sit down. Usher’s second-in-command, James (Cool Cat) Elliott had just been locked up so his girlfriend, Joann Clark, attended the meeting in his stead.

In reality, it was an ambush. Doc Holliday was seizing power in the gang. Powell took Usher’s gun and ordered McJoy, Jackson and Clark, executed, per court testimony. Their bodies were dismembered by a giddy, drunken and cigar-chomping Powell, per police records, after Usher was forced to watch his inner circle and his best friend’s girl gunned down in cold blood.

Partee and his partner-in-crime, the equally fabled street legend James (Jimmy Red) Freeman, were accused of being the triggermen in the hit. Powell and Freeman were acquitted in the case, while Partee was found guilty.    

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Amazon’s ‘The Last Narc’ suggests CIA helped kidnap, murder DEA agent

When DEA narcotics agent ­Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped and interrogated in 1985 by the leaders of Mexico’s Guadalajara Cartel, it was like a party.

They allegedly held him in a house filled with spectators and depraved participants, including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, then a foot soldier in the syndicate.

“You had a bunch of drug lords sitting around, freebasing cocaine and torturing this guy,” Tiller Russell, director of the new Amazon docuseries “The Last Narc,” told The Post. “They were blasted out of their minds, doing cannonballs on his chest, anally penetrating him with a broomstick, putting out cigarettes on his skin.”

Also in the mix: corrupt Mexican politicians and, according to sourc­es in the series, CIA agent Felix Rodriguez — allegedly there to protect American interests in a tangled web of drugs, money and dirty politics. Rodriguez has denied any involvement and claims that the allegations against him are the result of a Cuban intelligence disinformation campaign.

Amazon The Last Narc
Enrique “Kiki” CamarenaThe LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

The series alleges a corruption so deep that Mexico’s then-president, Miguel de la Madrid, received kilos of cocaine as gifts from traffickers. “Hector was stunned when he heard that,” Russell said of DEA special agent Hector Berrellez, who would later try to learn exactly what happened to Kiki. “But he talked to guys who hand-delivered the drugs.”

“The Last Narc” chronicles Berrellez’s investigation. His story also inspired the Netflix drama ­series “Narcos: Mexico.”

Kiki was reportedly nabbed near the American consulate in Guadalajara, at the behest of Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, partners in the cartel.

As Berrellez told The Post, cartel leaders and American operatives “wanted to find out what [Kiki] knew about collusion between the cartel and the CIA” — and what he might spill upon his upcoming reassignment to the United States.

Informants told Berrellez that Kiki was stripped to his jockey shorts, blindfolded and subjected to torture-filled interrogations that were captured on audiotape.

Those last two factors set off alarm bells for Berrellez, now 74. “Drug lords don’t blindfold; you know who they are, and you will not survive,” he said. Nor do they memorialize their interrogations: “That is CIA methodology.”

Amazon The Last Narc
Cartel partner Ernesto Fonseca CarrilloGDA via AP Images

Although Quintero, Carrillo and others were arrested by Mexican authorities for their involvement by the time Berrellez began to investigate, he believed that it went deeper — perhaps to the CIA.

Kiki was asked questions he could not answer. “He knew they were bringing in tons of cocaine, but he did not know that the CIA was involved,” said Berrellez.

The more Kiki expressed ignorance, the worse the torture.

When he passed out, a cartel-connected physician injected his heart with reviving pharmaceuticals. Then the torture continued. Finally, after two days, his body gave out and a thug put Kiki out of his misery, cracking him across the skull with a steel rebar.

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Cartel partner Rafael Caro Quintero in custody in 2005.AFP/Getty Images

Kiki’s body was quietly buried — then all hell broke loose.

“For 30 days, American agents kicked down doors,” said Russell. “The cartel had his body dug up” — by a crew of guys, including El Chapo, who specialized in such work — “and left Kiki where he could be found.”

An investigation ensued but petered out until Berrellez signed on in 1989, spending four years and some $12 million — much of which went toward buying information from snitches. He interviewed more than 100 insiders, often moving them to the United States for protection. Nevertheless, 23 ­sources were murdered over the course of the investigation.

In the series, Berrellez claims his efforts were shut down by his DEA bosses after he pieced together details about the CIA’s cocaine and gun operation. He maintains that the CIA functioned hand-in-glove with the cartel, allegedly using drug money to finance covert military operations, much like the Iran-Contra affair of the same era. (CIA agent Rodriguez has denied being in Mexico at the time.)

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In this March 8, 1985, file photo, Marine Corps pallbearers carry Camarena’s casket after it arrived at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego.AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

“The Last Narc” alleges that some US political operatives viewed Kiki as collateral damage in a larger mission to protect America against foreign enemies.

“Kiki ended up a sacrificial lamb led to the slaughter,” said Russell. “He stumbled into something bigger than he was.”

In the end, Berrellez’s investigation led to no indictments. He was taken off the case, assigned to a desk job in DC and told not to reach out to any of his sources. The investigation remains open.

But, as Berrellez says in the documentary, a “supposedly very high-up CIA official” told him “all this stuff about the CIA bringing in drugs and the CIA being complicit in Kiki’s murder that you allege” — and to “keep quiet” about it. “Mum’s the word.”

Now retired from the DEA, Berrellez sounds disillusioned about his investigation for the DEA.

“I feel like we were all betrayed,” he told The Post, referring to himself and his informants. “I wasted my time and exposed myself to all that danger.”

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Salvatore Brunetti, 73, denied early release

New Jersey mobster Salvatore Brunetti, 73, has been denied early release from prison by a federal judge. He was petitioning the court for early release over health concerns related to his age and the pandemic.

In the 1990s, Brunetti was involved in a mob war between factions of the South Jersey-Philadelphia Mafia. He was known to carry a rifle, but his main talent, and the reason he was recruited by the mob in the first place, was bomb-making.

Upon denying his request for early release from his 40-year sentence, the U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney said that although “we appreciate the fear of COVID-19,” this mobster “presents too great a danger of violence to the public.”

The judge did agree however with a statement by the most recent of Brunetti’s three wives, who said he was a “violent person who couldn’t change.”

According to court documents, Brunetti was planning on living with a family member in Cherry Hill, NJ, but it now looks like those plans will have to wait till his originally scheduled release date in 2028.

The court documents also clearly noted Brunetti’s part in the violent summer of 1993 clash between mafia factions led by Joey Merlino and Philadelphia mob boss John Stanfa.

Brunetti, formerly a businessman, was recruited by the mob in 1990. He was extremely proficient in the building, testing, and detonating of bombs, particularly pipe bombs.

The documents also stated that “Mr. Brunetti also provided cyanide to kill Merlino and tried to recruit a woman to place cyanide in Merlino’s drink,” and “so he would be able to identify the 12 targets to be murdered,” Brunetti watched a video of them at a funeral.

Brunetti was arrested in March 1994 on federal racketeering charges, and in 1997 was sentenced to 40 years.

Philadelphia mob boss John Stanfa, seen in a March 17, 1994 file photo

Philadelphia mob boss John Stanfa, seen in a March 17, 1994 file photo.

Although Stanfa and Merlino weren’t killed in the mob war, their nefarious activities eventually caught up with them. Stanfa, 79, was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for, amongst other charges, murder.

In 2001, Merlino, 58, was sentenced to 14 years on federal racketeering charges, then in 2018, he was sentenced to two years in prison on gambling charges. According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, he was released from federal custody on Monday.

The judge also made mention of another violent incident Brunetti was involved in. In 1984 he was convicted of aggravated assault for breaking down his wife’s door and repeatedly hitting and kicking her, leaving her with a fractured spine, broken teeth, and a broken nose.

Brunetti’s petition for early release stated that the 73-year-old inmate has several health issues including “hypertension, coronary artery disease, and eye conditions.” He also stated that a 2018 surgery left him with “shortness of breath.”

103 federal inmates and 1 employee have died from Covid-19. 4,049 federal inmates and employees have tested positive including 38 at the facility Brunetti is being held.

Judge Kearney also noted that “Mr. Brunetti set out to murder on multiple occasions but either did not have the shot or the shot was too risky to take,” referring to Brunetti’s attempted murder of Merlino where he backed out at the last minute because there were “too many people around,” and another attempt to kill Steve Mazzone, an associate of Merlino, which ended in a similar fashion.

Kearney was not impressed that Burnetti did not mention his history of mental illness, substance abuse, or the attack on his former wife. The ruling also noted that “he does not refer to his children.”

The ruling does state that Brunetti’s “recent conduct while incarcerated shows generally good behavior,” however, a 2000 incident where he was found in possession of a shiv, shows “violent tendencies potentially stuck with him through sentencing and into his time in prison.”

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Clerk-turned-industry big whig recalls mafia running the streets of New York

Years before Hollywood power player Jon Liebman was ever chairman and CEO of Brillstein Entertainment Partners — which reps clients such as Brad Pitt — he was clerking for a federal judge in the courthouse where the heavily publicized Mafia Commission Trial took place in 1985.

As executive producer of new Netflix docu-series “Fear City: New York vs the Mafia,” Liebman was able to connect director Sam Hobkinson with key participants in the case. But even Liebman was astonished by what they uncovered.

“There were different FBI squads for each Mafia family, and the FBI had to scurry to organize itself to mirror the way the Mafia had organized itself,” he told us. “And the interviews with the FBI ‘black-bag men,’ who went into the mob’s homes to bug them and collect evidence, are fascinating.”

He said the series’ producers are even “in the early stages of actively considering what “Fear City 2” would look like. The series about taking down the “five families” features Rudy Giuliani.

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Streets Of Detroit Lose A Legend, Former Black Mob Boss Big Frank Nitti Usher Succumbs To Stroke

August 1, 2020 – Storied Detroit crime lord Francis (Big Frank Nitti) Usher died of a stroke this week at 78. Big Frank Nitti ran the city’s Black mob in the late 1970s and saw his infamy and both his reputation on the street and in the local media soar to meteoric heights. He was mentored and staked in underworld affairs by the notorious Giacalone brothers of Motown’s Italian mafia known as the Tocco-Zerilli crime family.

Usher was convicted and later acquitted of playing a role in one of the most sensational triple homicides in Detroit history, the July 1979 Michigan Federated Democratic Social Club Massacre where three victims were shot execution style and then beheaded as a result of a power struggle in Usher’s organization. In 2015, he was arrested for a hand-to-hand heroin sale but had the charges dropped before trial.

As a teenager growing up on the eastside, Usher ran errands for Detroit mafia street bosses Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone, the men the FBI consider responsible for the famed disappearance and murder of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. Tony Jack reportedly nicknamed Usher “Frank Nitti,” after Prohibition era Chicago mob boss Al Capone’s underboss and a character in the popular 1960s television show The Untouchables.

Michigan State Police surveillance records note a young Usher hanging around the Giacalone crew at the LUESOD social club near where Usher lived as a boy. A newspaper photo from 1958, shows a baby-faced Usher carrying the Giacalones brief cases into a court hearing.

When Usher started his own African-American crime family in the early 1970s, the Giacalones financed and backed the venture, dubbed Murder Row and headquartered at the Michigan Federated Democratic Social Club in Detroit’s Midtown area. The Giacalones used the Murder Row crew for muscle work well into the 1980s.

Big Frank Nitti’s empire of drugs, gambling, prostitution and extortion blanketed the city. Usher’s main enforcer and street boss Adolph (Doc Holliday) Powell managed Murder Row affairs from the social club, while Usher usually spent his days on the city’s westside at his Black Orchid strip club. Most evenings, the crew would convene at Mr. Kelly’s bar and lounge or the 19th Hole tavern on the eastside.

Tensions in the group began rising after the 1978 imprisonment of Murder Row underboss Harold (The Hawk) Morton. On the late afternoon of July 18, 1979, Powell called Usher and Usher’s lieutenants, William (Little Dirty) McJoy and William (Straw Hat P) Jackson, to a meeting at the Michigan Federated Democratic Social Club, and had McJoy and Jackson executed as Usher watched. The wheels of the hit had went into motion less than a week before when Usher’s No. 2 man James (Cool Cat) Elliott was arrested and jailed on a murder charge. Elliott’s girlfriend, Joanne Clark accompanied the Usher contingent to the meeting with Powell and killed along with McJoy and Jackson.

The dismembered bodies of McJoy, Jackson and Clark were discovered that night stuffed into garbage bags in the back of an abandoned van near the 1-75 expressway. Months later, Usher, Powell and three other Murder Row members, were indicted for the triple homicide. Prosecutors alleged the fabled eastside enforcer duo of Robert (Lefty) Partee and James (Jimmy Red) Freeman were the triggermen in the hit. Partee was Usher’s first cousin and right-hand man.

Powell and Freeman were acquitted in the case. Usher and Partee were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Big Frank Nitti had the convicted tossed on appeal and won his freedom at a 1994 retrial. Powell was slain in an audacious 1983 gangland hit at La Players Lounge on Detroit’s eastside, shot in the head as he was taking a shot at the bar and tipping the bar tender with a $100 bill.

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