Beyond Tourism: Florida's Yesteryear

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Wanted Wednesdays: Santo Trafficante (1914-1987) April 28, 2010

When you think of Organized Crime what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, or even The Sopranos. Florida also has had to deal with their own problems with organized crime and not just the mafia on vacation in our sunny state.

Trafficante was born in Tampa in 1914 to Mafia Don Santo Trafficante, Sr and Maria Giuseppa Cacciatore who were both born in Italy. He started working for the mob in 1953 when he 39. His father sent him to Cuba which at the time was under the power of Fulgencio Batista. While there he set up illegal casinos.

Santos Trafficante, Louis Santos, Enrique Chacon, Samuel Balto were various alibis Trafficante used to deal with his businesses both legal and illegal. Including the casinos in Cuba he was also involved in casinos and nightclubs in Tampa.

In 1959, when Fidel overthrew Batista in Cuba he shut down Trafficante’s casinos and even threw him in jail before deporting him to the United States. It was at this time it is believed that he started talks with the CIA in plots to kill Castro up until his death on March 19.

Trafficante has been charged with gambling operations, at least four Mafia slayings, illegally bribing union officials, racketeering and conspiracy, rumored to be involved in a Mafia plot to kill President John F. Kennedy, though he denied there was any such conspiracy. Over the years while he was charged with all these crimes he was either released or served little to no time.

Information comes from the Cuban Information Archives and Biography.com