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Tampa, Florida
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By Scott Deitche
Tampa, Florida Author
     The Tampa Mob
     The Tampa Mob originated out of an area of Tampa known as Ybor City. Now a vibrant night spot, Ybor was the home to thousands of immigrant Cubans, Spanish, and Italians at the turn of the century. It was also the home to Tampa's cigar industry, giving work to many of the immigrants. Unlike northern cities, Tampa had no established Jewish or Irish gangs. In fact the biggest underworld figure during the 1920's to 1940's was a native Floridan, Charlie Wall. Wall was born to a prominent Tampa family, and began working at gambling houses, rising to run the racket himself.
     The dominant racket in Tampa was bolita, a kind of lottery brought to Ybor in the late 1880's by Manuel Suarez. The bolita racket expanded exponentially in Tampa and was the mob's predominant moneymaker until the 1960's. Narcotics also played a major role in the fortunes of the Tampa mob. Two early narcotics kingpins were James "Jo-Jo" Cacciatore, and George "Saturday" Zarate.
      The Mafia in Tampa came into the spotlight for the first time in 1928 in Cleveland. Police raided a meeting of gangsters at the Hotel Statler, and arrested Ignacio Italiano and Joe Vaglicia from Tampa. As the mafia grew in stature in Tampa a war broke out between the various gambling factions for control of the bolita and narcotics rackets. At this time there was no true boss in Tampa. Some early powers were the Diecidue family, Augustine Lazzara, the Velasco brothers, the Trafficantes, Salvatore Italiano, and Ignacio Antinori.
     Sal Italiano was the leader of the gambling rackets, while Antinori, along with his sons Paul and Joe controlled narcotics. Ignacio Antinori eventually fell out of favor with some Chicago gangsters after selling them a bad batch of narcotics and was gunned down in Tampa on October 24, 1940. He was one of over 25 killings from 1930 until 1959. This has come to be known in Tampa as the "Era Of Blood". Among those killed were Joe Vaglica (July 10, 1937), Mario Perla (Oct. 12, 1939), Jimmy Velasco (Dec. 12, 1948), and former kingpin Charlie Wall (April 20, 1955). Wall had testified to the Kefauver Commission in 1950 and was believed to be retired when he had his throat cut.
     In the late 40's Sal Italiano left for Italy, leaving James Lumia in charge. Lumia is credited by the FBI as the first true Mafia boss in Tampa. Lumia's reign was short-lived as he was killed by a shotgun blast on June 5, 1950. He was succeeded by Santo Trafficante Sr. Trafficante ruled until his death in August of 1954 from stomach cancer. He was succeeded by his son, Santo Jr.
     Santo Trafficante Jr. would lead the Tampa mob for 33 years until his death on March 17, 1987. A short bio of his accomplishments: ran casinos in Havanna before being kicked out by Castro, allegedly set up narcotics networks in Latin America and Southeast Asia, involved in CIA plots to kill Castro, arrested at the ill-fated Appalachin meeting, arrested at the "Little Appalachin meeting in Queens, NY, allegedly involved in the assassination of John Kennedy, present in the Waldorf Astoria the day that Albert Anastasia was killed, ran all gambling operations on the Gulf Coast, closely affiliated with the Marcello family of New Orleans, and , most importantly, never spent a night in an American jail.
     After Trafficante's death, authorities speculated the leadership of the Tampa family was split between longtime underboss Frank Diecidue (who died on Oct.19, 1994), Frank Albano, and Vincent LoScalzo. LoScalzo is now believed to run the remnants of the organization. The family came under investigation in the mid 80's involving a cocaine distribution ring, and again in 1992 as part of the ill-fated Key Bank investigation wherein all charges were eventually dropped. LoScalzo recently (Oct. 1997) pled guilty to fraud and was sentenced to probation.

This is a very abbreviated history of the Tampa family.
Below are some identified members:

    McClellan Commission (1962):
  • Santo Trafficante
  • Henry Trafficante
  • Frank Diecidue
  • Sal Scaglione
  • Al Scaglione
  • James Longo
  • Ciro Bedami
  • Angelo Bedami
  • Joe Bedami
  • Augustine Lazzara
  • Dominick Furci
  • Phillip Piazza
  • Angelo LoScalzo (father of Vincent)
  • Nick Scaglione
  • James Bruno
  • Salvatore Lorenzo
  • Sam Cacciatore
  • Sam Trafficante
    1991 FDLE report:
  • Henry Trafficante
  • Vincent LoScalzo
  • Frank Diecidue (died Oct 19, 1994)
  • Sam Carollo
  • Salvatore Lorenzo (died 1995)
  • Frank Albano
  • Joseph DiGerlando
  • James J. Valenti

    ASSOCIATES (active):

  • Pasquale "Pat" Mattasini (died May 1, 1999)
  • Joe Camero
  • Joseph Charles Bedami
  • Nick Scaglione (not named in 1992, died 1995)
  • James Donofrio
  • Sam Pupello
  • Michael Napoli

by Scott Deitche
(currently writing: The Tampa Mob)

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By Mario Machi
Investigative Journalist
     Tampa, Florida
     The first boss of the Tampa family was Santo Trafficante, Sr. He ruled from 1950 until his death in 1954. The family was active in the bolita games, which were a type of lottery game that was highly profitable for its proprietors. Santo Trafficante, Jr. succeeded his father in 1954. Even though he was not the oldest son, he was chosen by his father because of the incompetence of his brothers. He became one of the most powerful mob bosses in the country. He was once marked for death while in Cuba. He ran a few casinos in Havana, and was in trouble when Castro became dictator. Castro held him for death, but he was saved by his Tampa lawyer, and good friend, Frank Ragano, who would later become Jimmy Hoffa's personal attorney. Ragano would help Trafficante get acquited on various charges over his 33 years as boss. Trafficante was present at the Little Apalachin meeting of top bosses. He took the Fifth Amendment when pressed to answer questions about the meeting before a New York grand jury.
     Trafficante was brought to court one last time in 1986. This case was about his involvement in a club called King's Court that was run by FBI agents posing as associates of the Bonanno family in New York. One of these men, Joseph Pistone, a.k.a. Donnie Brasco, went on to write a book about his trials and tribulations. The agents got the backing of Bonanno capo Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano to open King's Court, but they had to get Trafficante's approval because it was in his territory. Ragano and Trafficante were reunited after many years in this case.
     Ragano had stopped defending Trafficante after the boss had failed to help him out with an income tax case that the government had brought against him. He came back to Santo reluctantly, but mainly because of the frail don's bad health. Ragano won Trafficante an acquital, but it was a short lived victory. Trafficante died in early 1987. The family has since faded out of the national picture. The latest news on the Tampa family has Vincent LoScalzo has the boss. LoScalzo and Santo Carollo, an associate, plead guilty in early October to securities fraud. Both men received probation for their offenses.
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