The Gambino crime family is one of the “Five Families” that dominate organised crime activities in New York City, United States. The group, which went through five bosses between 1910 and 1957, is named after Carlo Gambino, boss of the family at the time of the McClellan hearings in 1963, when the structure of organised crime first gained public attention. The group’s operations extend from New York and the eastern seaboard to California. Its illicit activities include labor and construction racketeering, gambling, loansharking, extortion, money laundering, prostitution, fraud, hijacking, pier thefts, and fencing.
The family was one of the five families that were founded in New York after the Castellammarese War of 1931. For most of the next quarter-century, it was a minor player in organised crime. Its most prominent member during this time was its underboss Albert Anastasia, who rose to infamy as the operating head of the underworld’s enforcement arm, Murder, Inc. He remained in power even after Murder, Inc. was smashed in the late 1940s, and took over his family in 1951—by all accounts, after murdering the family’s founder Vincent Mangano.
The rise of what was the most powerful crime family in America for a time began in 1957, when Anastasia was assassinated while sitting in a barber chair at the Park Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. Experts believe that Anastasia’s underboss Carlo Gambino helped orchestrate the hit to take over the family. Gambino partnered with Meyer Lansky to control gambling interests in Cuba. The family’s fortunes grew through 1976, when Gambino appointed his brother-in-law Paul Castellano as boss upon his death. Castellano infuriated upstart capo John Gotti, who orchestrated Castellano’s murder in 1985. Gotti’s downfall came in 1992, when his underboss Salvatore “Sammy Bull” Gravano decided to cooperate with the FBI. Gravano’s cooperation brought down Gotti, along with most of the top members of the Gambino family. Beginning in 2015, the family was headed by Frank Cali until his murder outside his Staten Island home on March 13, 2019.