New York Heroin War | The Mob Moves back in


The Mafiosi explored a return to the drug trade about a year ago. Key men were given permission to make buys, and a few have been caught. On January 13, Louis Cirillo, a Lucchese family associate, was indicted in Miami in a 1,500-pound multi-million dollar heroin-smuggling conspiracy. On April 29, while searching through Cirillo’s Bronx home, Federal agents found nearly $1.1 million buried in the backyard and the basement. On February 4, another Lucchese family associate. Vincent Papa, was arrested in the Bronx with $967,500 in a green suitcase destined for a 200-pound heroin buy. Papa had once served five years for selling narcotics and had a record of 26 arrests.

On May 10, Joseph (Polo) Manfredi, a Gambino family captain. was arrested along with two nephews and fourteen other men in a $25•million•a•year heroin operation that specialized in supplying several midwestem cities. On July 15. Michael Papa, Vincent Papa’s 24-year-old nephew, was arrested with another man for selling eleven pounds of co-caine to an undercover agent. In addition to the unusual rash of Mafia-associated drug arrests, police began hearing rumors that a number of gangland killings were directly re-lated to the mob’s re-entry into drugs. On August 10, for instance, the bodies of two of Joseph Manfredi’s nephews. one of whom had been arrested with him on May 10. were found in the deserted Clason’s Point section of the Bronx. The killing was apparently in-
tended to insure silence in the drug case involving their uncle.


The Murder of Lucchese Boss Thomas “Tommy Ryan” Eboli

Vincent Papa, arrested in 1973 with almost $1 million in cash, he would later be sent to prison for selling heroin and cocaine stolen out of the New York Police evidence room


Louis Cirillo, Lucchese Family.
Louis Cirillo of the Lucchese Family. Arrested with $1.1 million dollars buried in his back yard. Eventually served over 20 years in prison, known as a violent killer.

On July 16. when acting Genovese family boss Thomas (Tommy Ryan) Eboli was shot and killed on a Brook-lyn street corner, it was at first sus-pected that his death had something to do with the Gallo•Colombo war. He had just walked out of his girl friend Elvira (Dolly) Lenzo’s Lefferts Avenue apartment. shortly after midnight. when two men stepped out of a yellow panel truck and opened fire. hitting Eboli five times in the head and neck. Since the killing, Federal agents suspect that Eboli was killed not because of a Mafia family feud, but because he was in-volved in a $4-million narcotics scheme in which he tried to withhold more than a million dollars. On April 29, when Federal agents dug up Louis Cirillo’s backyard in the Bronx and found $1.078.100. Eboli’s fate was scaled. It is now suspected that Eboli had withheld that sum from his peers. the very top-level Mafia financiers who had originally bankrolled Cirillo’s heroin-smuggling plan. As is customary in such cases, underlings like Cirillo arc not held responsible for the greed of their bosses and arc, therefore. spared. Eboli, however, knew better. “They had to blow him away,” an in-former explained, “because he had held out on bosses. He had made fools of his own kind. The only thing that took them so long (Eboli was killed two months and seventeen days after the money was uncovered) was that they were probably trying to get him to replace the million so he could live.”



Other signs of the mob’s re-entry into junk were apparent when top Mafia bosses like Santo TraiTteante of Tampa and Joseph Marcello of New Orleans suddenly took trips to the Far East. Federal narcotics agents, who have  spotted both men in Saigon, Hong Kong. Singapore and Thailand, are almost certain that Asian connections were being established to supplement the mob’s traditional French and Corsican suppliers.

Another indication was the appearance in New York late last year of Thomas Buscetta, a Sicilian-born man of many passports and the Malta’s main South American connec-tion. Buscctta was arrested in front of the United Nations as an illegal alien. but left the country after posting $40,- 000 bail. He was wanted at the time by Sicilian police for masterminding a 1963 massacre in which seven police-men and three civilians died. Today, Buscetta lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil, under the name Robert V. Cavalaro, and owns a fleet of 275 taxicabs and a string of luncheonettes. Slipping in and out of the United States almost at will, Buscetta was recently caught coming through the Canadian border at Champlain, New York, with an American, three Italian, and two Argentinian pass-ports. While customs officials marveled at the fact that each of the passports bore a different name under his photo-graph, and as they searched his car. finding a Playboy Club credit slip, a booklet of lottery tickets and a reel of obscene film, Buscetta disappeared from the border patrol station.

Buscetta’s importance to the Mafiosi is twofold. He is not only their man in South America. but he also represents, at 44 years of age, just the kind of pa-tcntial Mafia boss that old-world dons like Carlo Gambino would like to see take over the secret society. Gambino has been importing foreign-born Mafiosi like Buscetta for several years, and po-lice intelligence officers suspect that much of the pressure being applied to organized crime leaders to return to narcotics has been exerted by these old-world imports.

“Greasers are taking over the whole operation.” one Federal informant explained. “Carlos Marcello has spread them through the South and the South-west. They arc in upstate New York. Gambino and Marcello and Magaddino are bringing Sicilians over. Right here, in downtown New York, the numbers arc all theirs. Joe Mush had a gigantic policy operation, but the greasers told him ‘bow or you’re dead.’

First they started by just hanging around, but pretty soon they were bringing over their buddies, until today, on Mulberry Street, the American wise guys are scared of them. “These guys arc bringing everybody into line. They’ve got the old man’s okay, and when they move it’s going to be a bloody mess.”


  1. Wow….Vinnie Papa and Anthony Loria. They slung SLOT of dope for sure. Even the Don’s and the Skipper’s knew these two were the real deal.

    • Quite a marketing coup they Italians pulled off to make seem as if they weren’t in the junk business. Must be from all their friends in the media.

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