Today, Cosa Nostra is hurting…… no longer are the “streets paved with gold” as they had been for the early Italian, Jewish, and Irish hoodlums who immigrated to America’s shores.
With so many high-tech sophisticated law enforcement techniques today, and the litany of rats and stool pigeons that have permeated the ranks of The Brotherhood, mafioso and knockaround guys today are no longer able to fade into the woodwork as they’d done for so many decades.
And with a tremendously diminished playing field as far as operating rackets go, street guys today have a very hard road to hold as far as “earning” a good living and surviving on the street.
They no longer hold dominion over various locals of the Teamsters Union as they once did. Or the Laborers Union, Bartenders Union or International Longshoremen’s Assn.
Major industries that were once the mob’s playground have been largely purged of their influence.
The Fulton Fish Market, Kennedy Airport, the docks of the NY/NJ waterfront, and any other number of key industries they had penetrated from the 1930s forward are today mostly run independent of underworld influence.
They still may have certain key men within these varied industries and unions, but the overall influence and power they once wielded is forever consigned to underworld history.
Today, even street rackets are a far cry from what they once were.
With the exception of sports bookmaking and the lending of money at a interest rate higher than allowed by law, or the narcotics trade which although quite profitable was always a very dangerous, high-risk affair, there is little else to hustle and make a dishonest dollar from.
And the supply and demand of the public is different today than years ago.
Certain racket operations don’t work today because the public does not seek out those services.
So, the wiseguys don’t bother to go into them….. remember street guys go where the money is!
Gone are the heady days of yesteryear. A Mob splendor where there were great hustles, scams, and rackets at every turn.
The world has changed, and, unfortunately, the mob had to change right along with it!
…Truck hijackings (because of GPS) is a dead duck!….. they’ve legalized the lottery and OTB, so policy and horse betting has gone the way of the Model T-Ford….. etc., etc., etc.,….
So what’s left for an earnest, enterprising, scheming young Mafioso to make a solid respectable “dishonest” dollar at today?
Prohibition is long over! ….. stolen and forged securities are passé!….. counterfeiting U.S. currency, and counterfeit credit cards are long gone!…..
The racket operations listed below are among those that have been lost in the mob’s repertoire of earning power. This list was among its most lucrative operations:
>> Policy (numbers lottery)
>> Illegal Casinos (roulette, cards, dice: craps, barbut, ziganette, blackjack)
>> Labor/Union Racketeering
>> Waterfront Industry Rackets
>> Air/Freight Industry Rackets
>> Garbage/Carting Industry Rackets
>> Hijacking (Trucks & Cargo-Theft)
>> Receiving/Fencing stolen goods
>> After Hours Clubs (liquor violations)
>> Cigarette Bootlegging(tax evasion)
>> Burglary, Organized Robberies,etc.
>> Stolen Securities (stocks, US bonds, checks, etc.)
>> Auto Theft Rings
>> Prostitution and Pornography Racket
>> Harness Race Fixing (horses)
>> Insurance Frauds (Arson, etc.)
>> Bankruptcy Fraud (bust-out scam)
>> Bribery and Official Corruption
>> Smuggling Rackets (gold, jewelry, aliens, etc.)
>> Strong-Arm, Enforcer, Homicides
What’s left of the Mob?
The rackets shown below are mostly what’s left. But even these street businesses are far from what they’d been years ago.
Remember, even though these rackets may still be around, they must operate in a vastly reduced state with much less mobility and breadth, lest they be almost immediately uncovered and probed by a sophisticated and well informed law enforcement that the mob’s forefathers never had to face.
>> Bookmaking (sports only)
>> Slot machines (video)
>> Extortion – shakedowns
>> Labor-related rackets and embezzlement
>> Narcotics (mostly marijuana, pills and cocaine)
>> Business Frauds
So of course, the mob will go on but certainly not as it did years back. Far from it in fact!
In decades past, the underworld drew from the brightest, shrewdest, smartest, and toughest of their ethnicities to fill their ranks.
Drawn from poverty and searching for their piece of the American Dream, many young men went into this line of work because it offered the greatest and fastest path to financial success and upward mobility.
And unless you were caught dead-to-rights with a cache of heroin in your lap or standing over a body, most served little to no jail time.
And the base mentality of the players was so very different than today. Years ago, with few exceptions, the men drawn to this life had a reverence for their superiors and were well regimented in their actions.
And a dedication similar to the actual soldiers or “soldati” that they were so often identified with. They followed orders almost blindly and were mostly happy with their position in the pecking order of things.
Today, it’s the “me” generation.
Most come from comfortable family backgrounds and want for little to nothing.
They wanna become “gangsters” because it’s the en vogue thing to do.
They wanna make big money fast without the slow process of being “groomed” or “earning” their position so to speak.
Most know little to nothing of “The Life,” and cannot follow proper mob decorum.
The mob is scraping “the bottom of the barrel” to fill its ranks.
And when their image of what they’d thought this life to be isn’t what it “really” is in reality, with their little bubble bursting as the law comes busting through their front door, they fold like accordions.
The next thing you know, they join “Team America,” turning rodent on friends and family alike to save their asses from going to the joint.
They suddenly have this epiphany, seeking out God, becoming holy rollers. Suddenly they don’t wanna be tough guys anymore….. it’s funny, facing 10, 20, 30 years or more in jail will do that to a lot of people!
And the old-timers who are still alive and breathing, if they are at all still active in the streets, want little to nothing to do with these so-called younger “brothers in blood.”
The old timers stay amongst themselves. They reminisce about the old days, of friends no longer with them, and operate whatever limited rackets they have going, in as surreptitious a manner as they can, to survive.
No, the players today that are presently on the streets are a far cry from the Johnny Dio’s, Sonny Franzese’s and Lilo Galante’s of yesteryear…. And I dare say that they’re not coming back for a requiem any time soon!
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