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Las Vegas PD Gets Helping Hand From Foreign Reporting Team, Gun Retrieved By Lake Mead’s ‘Body In The Barrel’

August 19, 2022 — European reporters found a gun in the vicinity of where the first body was discovered earlier this year on the banks of Las Vegas’ Lake Mead. The investigative reporting team hails from Sweden. The “body in the barrel” was found off Hemenway Harbor on May 1. Autopsy reports show the victim was a male and was shot to death.

Besides the barrel-encased corpse, there have been four additional sets of human remains unearthed in the last few months, most recently this past week. Watering levels in Lake Mead are dropping precipitously and experts predict won’t cede for another year at least.

Per sources in law enforcement, both state and federal investigators are deep-diving at least 5 cold-case mafia-connected murders and disappearances thought to be tied to the infamous Tony (The Ant) Spilotro crew which ran roughshod through the Strip during the 1970s and 1980s leaving loads of bodies and destruction in its wake. Spilotro’s maniacal antics were dramatized in the gangster-movie classic Casino in 1995, with Oscar-winner Joe Pesci famously playing a character based on Tony the Ant.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, is experiencing a substantial drop in water level with no sign of slowing down. The water level in Lake Mead is expected to drop another three feet by the end of 2023, according to experts in Nevada. Bodies are expected to keep emerging, too, as decades of secrets and water-logged silence surface to be probed.

The second on May 10. The skeletal parade subsided for a couple months and then picked up again on July 26 near a public swim park in Hemenway Harbor where more human remains discovered. On August 5, another set of remains was found around Hemenway Harbor.

“They’ve always joked that problems in Vegas are solved in the desert, but believe me, just as many have been solved at the bottom of Lake Mead,” remarked one former Spilotro crew associate. “Nobody knew or cared about future water levels in 1976 or whatever, they just knew Lake Mead was big and deep and could make a body go bye-bye.”

Las Vegas was once a gangster’s paradise and is a city with a trove of unsolved mob-related disappearances and murders linked to the old Spilotro regime. Spilotro was sent to Vegas in 1971 by mafia bosses in Chicago to look after the mob’s financial interests in the casino and hotel industry. He was heinously slain for his increasingly insubordinate behavior in June 1986, beaten, stomped and strangled to death in the basement of a Chicago residence in a macabre double-killing (his baby brother Michael was also murdered) depicted in Casino.

Federal law enforcement from that era credited Spilotro and his so-called “Hole In The Wall Gang” with more than two dozen killings in their 15 years rampaging through the desert sun with impunity. Several members of Spilotro’s crew disappeared between 1976 and 1983, including Bobby Shaw, Jay Vandermark, John (Johnny Pappas) Panagiotakos and William (Billy Bahama) Crespo. The Las Vegas Police Department is actively investigating those missing person cases and attempting to link them to the bodies being found in or near Lake Mead in recent months. Investigators are also relooking into the case of an unnamed Vegas cocktail waitress that vanished in 1981 in the days after drawing Spilotro’s ire for spilling a drink on a member of his party in the VIP section of the chic disco Jubilation. 

“We are deep-diving some old Spilotro-related cases, as well as a bunch more, drownings, boat accidents and such,” said one of the investigators who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The stuff we’ve seen from the remains puts the date of death in the timespane of late 1970s, early 80s, right when Spilotro was going off the rails.” 

FBI techs took DNA samples from Shaw’s relatives in May, suspecting he might be the body in the barrel. Shaw was last seen alive in the spring of 1977 in the Los Angeles area departing for Las Vegas. He was a drug dealer and thief that had met Spilotro through Tony the Ant’s L.A. lieutenant Joey Hansen, a seasoned mob burglar and hit man, who like Spilotro, was originally from Chicago. Hansen died of cancer in 2003.

Vandermark and Panagiotakos both went missing in the same three-week period in the late summer of 1976 in the wake of a series of FBI and IRS raids of casinos on the Strip that fell under Spilotro’s responsibilities to maintain order at for the mob. According to federal court records, Vandermark was placed in charge of the count rooms at four separate mob-owned casinos and tasked with overseeing the “skim” (the cash stolen directly from the casino and transported to mob shot callers in the Midwest). He disappeared on August 1, 1976 while being sought for questioning by the FBI. The last public sighting of Vandermark was in Phoenix with members of Spilotro’s Arizona crew. 

“Johnny Pappas” Panagiotakos came to Las Vegas from Chicago and managed the mob-controlled Echo Bay Resort resting on the shores of Lake Mead. He vanished on the night of August 18, 1976 on his way to a meeting at Jo Jo’s Restaurant to discuss selling his boat. Pappas’ abandoned Lincoln Continental was found in the parking structure attached to Circus Circus casino.

“Billy Bahama” Crespo got busted with a shipment of cocaine on a flight going from Miami to Las Vegas in November 1982. He was acting as a courier for Chicago mob-skim money being invested into drug deals in South Florida, per his grand jury testimony. Crespo was on the verge of testifying against fellow Chicago mafia associates when he disappeared in June 1983.

Indictment Finally Lands In Whitey Bulger Prison Hit, Famous W. Mass. Tough Guy Freddy Geas Charged With Murdering Irish Mob Chief

August 19, 2022 — After a nearly four-year investigation, charges against Massachusetts gangster Freddy Geas and two others were finally filed today for the 2018 murder of Boston Irish mob boss and government informant James (Whitey) Bulger inside a federal correctional facility in West Virginia. According to the indictment, Geas and North Shore Boston mob figure Paulie DeCalogero beat Bulger to death with socks holding metal locks just hours following his arrival at the Hazelton, West Virginia prison via a transfer from a Florida prison protective custody unit.

Bulger, 89, ruled Boston’s Irish underworld from the early 1970s until his indictment in 1995 when he took off and lived as a fugitive of justice for 16 years. Late in his reign atop the “Southie” and Winter Hill rackets, The Boston Globe reported that Bulger was a top-echelon FBI informant who had helped the government bust the region’s Italian mafia and eliminate rivals by feeding the feds street intel in exchange for what basically amounted to a license to kill. Bulger’s status as a rate was confirmed in court documents and indictments of federal agents while he was on the run. Apprehended hiding in Los Angeles in 2011, Bulger was convicted of multiple gangland homicides at his 2013 trial and sentenced to life behind bars.

On the street in the 1990s and 2000s, the 55-year old Geas was a top enforcer for the Springfield (MA) mafia, a satellite wing of New York’s Genovese crime family. Geas and his brother Ty were convicted in the 2003 slaying of Springfield mob skipper Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno. The Geas brothers were never formally inducted into the Genovese family because of their Greek heritage.

DeCalogero, 48, was a member of his uncle, “Big Paulie” DeCaolgero’s North Shore mob crew. He was found guilty of murdering a teenage girl in 1996 that he and his crew felt was going to talk to the feds as well as heroin and steroid trafficking linked to activity out of his uncle’s gym in Woburn, Massachusetts.

Sean McKinnon, 36, was also charged today in the Bulger homicide conspiracy. McKinnon was free and living in Florida.

End Of The Road: Chicago Wiseguy Who Hoped For Hearing In Family Secrets Case Is Arrested In Another Fraud Conspiracy

August 17, 2022 — The man trying to get the landmark Operation Family Secrets case reopened is behind bars. Former Chicago mob associate Chuck Miceli was arrested this week for nine counts of fraud out of Will County related to construction jobs and bad checks. Bond was set at $200,000.

The 56-year old Miceli, a former police officer, served a decade in prison down in Florida in the 2000s for defrauding investors in a nightclub venture. His pro se motion in Family Secrets initially got a hearing date earlier this month, but it was thrown out of court by U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey before the motion was ever argued based on Miceli not being a movant or retained counsel in the case.

The motion was filed by Miceli on behalf of the Outfit’s incarcerated boss, James (Jimmy the Man) Marcello, currently serving life in prison from his conviction in Family Secrets, the biggest organized crime prosecution in Chicago history. Marcello, 78, led the mafia in Chicago in the early 2000s. The Family Secrets indictment landed in April 2005 and charged him and 13 other men with 18 previously unsolved cold-case homicides. Some of the murders resolved in the Family Secrets case were dramatized in the movie Casino. Micelli has been a cooperator for both state and federal law enforcement in the past.

The case’s original judge, U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel ruled in 2006 that Miceli couldn’t testify at the trial that lasted between June and October of 2007. From his prison cell in Florida, Miceli had lobbied to be called to the stand so he could refute the government’s scenario surrounding the 1974 gangland slaying of mob associate and future government witness Danny Seifert, one of the most well-known mob hits adjudicated at the historic trial. Miceli claims to have witnessed the murder when he was 8 years old. Marcello wasn’t alleged to be involved in Seifert’s killing, carried out in broad daylight in front of his wife and young son at Seifert’s Bensenville plastics factory.

Longtime Chicago mob power Joey (The Clown) Lombardo was found guilty in the Seifert hit and besides Jimmy Marcello, was the lead defendant in the Family Secrets saga. Seifert was about to testify against Lombardo and other Windy City mafia figures in a Teamsters pension-fund fraud case revolving around a New Mexico work pail manufacturing company when he was slain. Miceli grew up around Lombardo on Chicago’s near Westside.

Lombardo was capo of the Outfit’s Grand Avenue crew and then got promoted to consigliere of the organization in the 1990s following a prison stint. He died of throat cancer in 2019 at age 89.

Miceli’s cooperation with the government began 13 years before the Family Secrets case was filed with the successful prosecution of former Cook County Chief Merrit Board Investigator Jack Novelli in 1992. Miceli put a Gangster Disciples shot caller away for life with his testimony in the murder of Pamela Strauss in Rock Island in a 1996 drug deal gone wrong. Part of Miceli’s cooperation included stopping a murder contract put out for New York mob princess and reality television star, Vickie Gotti Agnello, the daughter of the deceased Dapper Don, John Gotti, former celebrity boss of the Gambino crime family. Most of Miceli’s cooperation related to political corruption and dirty policemen.

The Fifth Dimension Of Death: Body No. 5 Pops Up In Las Vegas’ Lake Mead, Old “Tony The Ant” Crew Still A Focus Of Investigation

August 17, 2022 — Amid drastic lowering water levels, five bodies have now washed ashore on the banks of Lake Mead in Las Vegas since May. Are ghosts of The Ant lingering again?

The fifth set of human remains were discovered Tuesday.

Per sources in law enforcement, both state and federal investigators are deep-diving at least 5 cold-case mafia-connected murders and disappearances thought to be tied to the infamous Tony (The Ant) Spilotro crew which ran roughshod through the Strip during the 1970s and 1980s leaving loads of bodies and destruction in its wake. Spilotro’s maniacal antics were dramatized in the gangster-movie classic Casino in 1995, with Oscar-winner Joe Pesci famously playing a character based on Tony the Ant.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, is experiencing a substantial drop in water level with no sign of slowing down. The water level in Lake Mead is expected to drop another three feet by the end of 2023, according to experts in Nevada. Bodies are expected to keep emerging, too, as decades of secrets and water-logged silence surface to be probed.

The first body was found encased in a muddy barrel on May 1. The second on May 10. The skeletal parade subsided for a couple months and then picked up again on July 26 near a public swim park in Hemenway Harbor where more human remains discovered. On August 5, another set of remains was found around Hemenway Harbor.

“They’ve always joked that problems in Vegas are solved in the desert, but believe me, just as many have been solved at the bottom of Lake Mead,” remarked one former Spilotro crew associate. “Nobody knew or cared about future water levels in 1976 or whatever, they just knew Lake Mead was big and deep and could make a body go bye-bye.”

Las Vegas was once a gangster’s paradise and is a city with a trove of unsolved mob-related disappearances and murders linked to the old Spilotro regime. Spilotro was sent to Vegas in 1971 by mafia bosses in Chicago to look after the mob’s financial interests in the casino and hotel industry. He was heinously slain for his increasingly insubordinate behavior in June 1986, beaten, stomped and strangled to death in the basement of a Chicago residence in a macabre double-killing (his baby brother Michael was also murdered) depicted in Casino.

Federal law enforcement from that era credited Spilotro and his so-called “Hole In The Wall Gang” with more than two dozen killings in their 15 years rampaging through the desert sun with impunity. Several members of Spilotro’s crew disappeared between 1976 and 1983, including Bobby Shaw, Jay Vandermark, John (Johnny Pappas) Panagiotakos and William (Billy Bahama) Crespo. The Las Vegas Police Department is actively investigating those missing person cases and attempting to link them to the bodies being found in or near Lake Mead in recent months. Investigators are also relooking into the case of an unnamed Vegas cocktail waitress that vanished in 1981 in the days after drawing Spilotro’s ire for spilling a drink on a member of his party in the VIP section of the chic disco Jubilation. 

“We are deep-diving some old Spilotro-related cases, as well as a bunch more, drownings, boat accidents and such,” said one of the investigators who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The stuff we’ve seen from the remains puts the date of death in the timespane of late 1970s, early 80s, right when Spilotro was going off the rails.” 

FBI techs took DNA samples from Shaw’s relatives in May, suspecting he might be the body in the barrel. Shaw was last seen alive in the spring of 1977 in the Los Angeles area departing for Las Vegas. He was a drug dealer and thief that had met Spilotro through Tony the Ant’s L.A. lieutenant Joey Hansen, a seasoned mob burglar and hit man, who like Spilotro, was originally from Chicago. Hansen died of cancer in 2003.

Vandermark and Panagiotakos both went missing in the same three-week period in the late summer of 1976 in the wake of a series of FBI and IRS raids of casinos on the Strip that fell under Spilotro’s responsibilities to maintain order at for the mob. According to federal court records, Vandermark was placed in charge of the count rooms at four separate mob-owned casinos and tasked with overseeing the “skim” (the cash stolen directly from the casino and transported to mob shot callers in the Midwest). He disappeared on August 1, 1976 while being sought for questioning by the FBI. The last public sighting of Vandermark was in Phoenix with members of Spilotro’s Arizona crew. 

“Johnny Pappas” Panagiotakos came to Las Vegas from Chicago and managed the mob-controlled Echo Bay Resort resting on the shores of Lake Mead. He vanished on the night of August 18, 1976 on his way to a meeting at Jo Jo’s Restaurant to discuss selling his boat. Pappas’ abandoned Lincoln Continental was found in the parking structure attached to Circus Circus casino.

“Billy Bahama” Crespo got busted with a shipment of cocaine on a flight going from Miami to Las Vegas in November 1982. He was acting as a courier for Chicago mob-skim money being invested into drug deals in South Florida, per his grand jury testimony. Crespo was on the verge of testifying against fellow Chicago mafia associates when he disappeared in June 1983.

The Black Mafia Family & Run DMC: BMF Drug Deal Gone Wrong Was Reason For Jam Master Jay’s Murder, Per Prosecutors In NYC

August 16, 2022 — At the center of the Jam Master Jay murder, there was a shipment of Black Mafia Family cocaine sent from St. Louis to Washington D.C. and then finally brought to New York City by Jam Master Jay himself, according to federal prosecutors in the upcoming first-degree homicide trial of his alleged killers. The deal went awry from there, with his partners either not getting paid or getting shut out of the deal all together, per an article published by Playboy Magazine in the months following his slaying.

Hip-hop pioneer Jason Mizell aka “Jam Master Jay” was shot to death execution style inside his recording studio in Queens on the evening of October 30, 2002. Prosecutors in New York City say Ronnie (Tinard) Washington and Karl (Lil’ D) Jordan killed the 37-year old Mizell over a drug-deal rip-off where Mizell cut them out of a 10-kilo purchase from an unnamed BMF lieutenant out of Missouri. Their trial is scheduled to begin early next year.

The Playboy article reported that BMF never received full payment for the purchase, were upset by that fact and looking for payback. It’s unclear if prosecutors believe Jordan and Washington had any contact with or incentivization from BMF prior to murdering Mizell for their own grievances.

Washington, 58, is also a suspect in the murder of a Tupac Shakur-affiliated recording artist in the East Coast-West Coast Rap War — namely, the November 1995 drive-by killing of Queens rapper Randy (Stretch) Walker, a member of the Live Squad and the legendary Shakur’s side project crew Thug Life. Shakur was famously gunned down less than a year later in Las Vegas in a still-unsolved, but heavily-speculated upon homicide.

In a motion hearing from the Jam Master Jay case held in May, prosecutors accused Washington and Jordan of attempting to intimidate future witnesses. Due to the increasing security concerns and the difficulty in tracking down subpoenaed records from two decades ago, the trial was pushed back from its original September 2022 start date to February 2023. Jordan, 40, is alleged to have acted as the triggerman in the Jam Master Jay murder.

Universally revered as one of the greatest DJs of all-time, Mizell was part of the groundbreaking rap group Run DMC, practically single-handedly responsible for bringing hip-hop music to the masses in the 1980s. The Adidas, gold-chain wearing trio made up of Mizell, Joe (Rev Run) Simmons and Darryl (DMC) McDaniels, became the first rappers to reach Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum status in record sales and was the first corporate-embraced hip-hop entity, validating the craft to Wall Street and the music industry simultaneously.

Mizell took possession of 10 bricks of cocaine on consignment via a July 2002 meeting in Washington D.C. with BMF lieutenants from St. Louis and Maryland present, per a government timeline. Mizell knew the man from Maryland and went to him to broker the transaction of $250,000 of product through BMF, according to sources.

An aspiring rapper, who went by the stage name “Lil’ Yadi” in the music industry, Karl Jordan recorded with Mizell in the years before Mizell was slain and his dad, “Big D,” acted as Run DMC’s tour manager at times. He had a dispute with one of Mizell’s nephews about the slaying in August 2003 and shot him in the leg — Jordan only avoided going to trial in that incident because the nephew refused to cooperate with police. Mizell had fallen into financial hardship, was being hounded by the IRS for unpaid taxes and felt forced to turn to the drug world for fast money, according to the Playboy article.

Black Mafia Family began in Detroit in the early 1990s and by the 2000s had spread across the country to become the “Walgreens of cocaine,” in the New Millenium, establishing operations in almost two dozen states and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. The organization was dismantled courtesy of the DEA’s historic 2005 Operation Motor City Mafia bust, which netted more than 175 convictions, including BMF bosses and founders Demetrius (Big Meech) Flenory and Terry (Southwest T) Flenory. As they built their drug empire, the Flenory brothers kept multiple interests in the rap game, aiding in the career-launching of artists like Notorious B.I.G., Nelly and Young Jeezy, per sources and government-informant records.

The three-city leadership nexus in BMF consisted of Detroit, L.A. and Atlanta. Leaving loyalists behind in Michigan to hold down the fort in the Midwest, Big Meech set up camp in Atlanta, while Southwest T made his homebase in Southern California. St. Louis was known as a BMF “hub,” of sorts, an integral sector of the organization’s rare functionality and home to some of the group’s fiercest and most dangerous soldiers.

Terry Flenory, 52, was released from prison in May 2020 on a medically-related home-confinement pass. Big Meech, 54, isn’t set to be let loose until May 2029. The smash hit scripted television series BMF premiered to huge ratings last fall on the Starz Network. The show stars Big Meech’s son, “Lil’ Meech,” as Big Meech and is produced by rapper-turned-mogul 50 Cent and the team behind the Starz classic Power, the fictional tale of a New York drug kingpin called “Ghost.”