Giovanni Schillaci -“Opium Smuggler & Alien Smugglee”

By The Other Guy | April 18, 2020

Early mugshot of Giovanni Schillaci

Giovanni (Al Brown) Schillaci – aka “John Schillaci”, “Frank Coniglio”, “John Tanza”, “John Lanza”, “Frank Lanza”, “John Longo”, “Frank Long”, “Frank Longo”, “Thomas Coniglio”, “Frank Alberto” – was born on October 1, 1901 in Corleone, Sicily.

After immigrating to the United States as a young boy, the family settled in the East Harlem section where many others from his province back in Sicily had formed a large, close-knit community.

Schillaci stood 5-foot 5-inches tall and had a stocky build at 175 pounds. He was mostly bald with brown/grey hair on the sides, had dark brown eyes and a swarthy olive complexion.


FBI # 202010, NYCPD # B-58457, INS # 1071609


“Al Brown” Schillaci was first named as a mafia member by underworld songbird Joseph (Joe Cago) Valachi during the 1963 McClellan Hearings before Congress. Giovanni Schillaci was listed as an inducted “soldier” in the East Harlem regime of Michael Coppola.

He was known to be active in rackets that included: burglary and thefts, the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, wholesale heroin trafficking (local, interstate and internationally), shylocking, and the fencing of stolen goods.

In the 1940s, he also reportedly held a hidden partnership interest in Butler’s Top Hat Room located on Columbus Avenue off 83rd Street on Manhattan’s West Side.

His early associates included such iconic underworld figures as:

• Michael (Trigger Mike) Coppola

• Joseph (Tough Joey) Rao

• Frank (Cheech) Livorsi

• Salvatore (Tom Mix) Santora

• Philip (Cockeyed Phil) Lombardo

• John (Big John) Ormento

• Joseph (Joe Stretch) Stracci

• Charles (Charlie Bullets) Albero

Vincent (Vincey) Rao

• Max (Max Raymond) Eder

• Riccardo (Big Dick) Amato

• Giuseppe (Joe Hardy) Pellegrino

• Frank (Chick 99) Callace

…and notorious Family boss Salvatore (Charlie Lucky) Lucania.

His associates mostly centered around important members of both the Luciano/Genovese Family and Gagliano/Lucchese mob of upper Manhattan.


He started out as a young burglar in Harlem and partnered with several robbery gangs until tying up with a small burglary ring that included future mafia member and informant Joe Valachi. Big Dick Amato, and “Johnny D” DeBellis were also named as ring members. They were prolific thieves and heist men who were arrested numerous times for “smash and grab” burglaries and armed robberies as reflected by his criminal record.

He later allied with the future Lucchese Family’s “107th Street Gang”, until joining the 116th Street regime of Trigger Mike Coppola, where he was later formally inducted into Cosa Nostra under the Genovese flag.

By the late-1930s, Schillaci had moved into drug trafficking which was pervasive in the Harlem and Bronx sections of the city.
Narcotics agents identified him as one of the leaders of an upper East Side group which financed the wholesale smuggling and distribution of raw opium and processed heroin from Mexico.

He was also considered a “strong-arm” enforcer related to mob operations in Harlem.

Schillaci’s police record of 13 arrests commenced in 1921:

1921 – grand larceny (1 year suspected sentence)

1923 – burglary

1923 – burglary

1924 – robbery

1924 – burglary

1926 – robbery

1928 – burglary

1929 – robbery

1930 – assault and robbery

1934 – vagrancy

1940 – alien registration

1942 – vagrancy

1942 – violating federal narcotic laws, possession and sale(Harrison Act)

1942 – counterfeiting conspiracy (6 months)

His 1940 arrest tied Schillaci into a large interstate wholesale-heroin ring that supplied Connecticut and Arizona among other interstate locations.

Narcotics arrest mugshot of Schillaci

After being charged with narcotics violation he evaded apprehension for months until being arrested by FBN agents. He was later convicted of narcotics trafficking on June 20, 1940 and jailed. After being jailed and served several years in federal prison, Subsequently on October 20, 1943 a “warrant of arrest for deportation” proceedings was issued for Schillaci. He was transferred and held for an indeterminate period at the Immigration Detention Center by the IN&S at Ellis Island, and later deported back to Sicily April 2, 1947.

He was said by agents of the (FBN) Federal Bureau of Narcotics to have reconnected with his boss Lucky Luciano back in Sicily, becoming Luciano’s driver and bodyguard for a time. Named by Valachi as one of several mafiosi smuggled back into the states, Schillaci is alleged to have been back in America by 1951, using a variety of aliases to stay under law enforcement’s radar.

He was said to have settled somewhere in Brooklyn, avoiding his old haunts of East Harlem where he was too well known.

It seems that the efforts of Giovanni (Al Brown) Schillaci to avoid detection were successful because no more was ever heard of Schillaci.

He was never apprehended by INS agents, and no dod was available.


Back to The Genovese Family

The Gambino Family

The Bonanno Family

The Colombo Family

The Lucchese Family

The DeCavalcante Family

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