History of the crime family
The Gambino crime family is among the five crime family operating in New York. It is named after its previous leader called Carlo Gambino who controlled the criminal operation of the family from 1959 to 1976 (American Mafia History par. 1). The family originated from the unification of the Salvatore D’Aquila gang and the Morello gang in the 1800s. The group operated in New York for close to twenty years until the incarceration of its boss, Giuseppe Morello. The conviction of the boss and underboss of the gang left a leadership gap that disrupted the gang’s activities. Salvatore left the group to form his outfit with the assistance of other Mafia groups. His outfit overpowered weaker gangs and absorbed their structures into his organization to become a dominant force in New York.
Rival gangs appeared in the 1920s such as the Colombo crime family and the Masseria outfit. Masseria’s assassins gunned down D’Aquilla, his second in command, Alfred Mineo, and his top lieutenant, Steve Ferrigano, to become the most powerful crime family in New York. However, Joe Masseria soon died at the hands of his associates allied to Salvatore Maranzano’s outfit in 1931. Salvatore named himself the new boss of the city and divided his power among five crime families to assist him in controlling the family’s operations while retaining the highest seat for himself. Soon after, Salvatore was assassinated by Lucy Luciano, who then assumed the leadership of the organization. He created a commission consisting of the bosses of each of the five families. The commission aimed at resolving inter-family conflicts in order to prevent gang rivalry and warfare.
Luciano appointed Vincent Mangano to head D’Aquila’s former outfit and made him a member of the commission. The Mangano introduced old mob practices such as honor, respect and loyalty in his family, and established illegal activities such as extortion, racketeering and murder through its Murder Incorporation. The underboss of the Mangano family murdered Vincent and his brother Albert in 1951 to become the new head of the family. Albert appointed Carlo Gambino as his underboss, and soon gained control over the commission. Albert angered the commission with his disobedience and knack for violence. Consequently, the commission offered Gambino the top seat in the commission if he eliminate Albert. In 1957, Gambino hired assassins to kill Albert at a barber shop and was soon appointed the head of the Anastasia family. Gambino renamed the family to Gambino crime family and controlled its operations for nineteen years until his death in 1976. Paul Castellano took over the family and created a communication barrier between him and the family members. Hostilities arose, leading to the murder of Castellano and his underboss. John Gotti assumed leadership of the family in 1985 and led for seven years. His leadership was marked by several arrests, culminating in his incarceration and death in prison in 2002. Since then, the leadership of the Gambino family has changed hands severally to the present one, Junior Gotti (John Gotti’s son).
Evaluation of law enforcement activities
The rise of the Gambino crime family over the years stemmed from the laxity in immigration laws in the 1880s. This laxity promoted the mass immigration of southern Italians into North America. As a result, numerous criminals and ex-convicts escaping from Italian authorities found their way into the country. These criminals caused a surge in violent crimes. In addition, the immigrants faced economic hardships, working in menial jobs and living in deplorable conditions. Approximately 500, 000 Italian immigrants lived in New York City by early 1900 (Abadinsky 46). The Italian immigrants arrived in North America after other immigrant groups such as the Europeans, who had already assumed control over all the lawful channels of political and economic success. Thus, the Italians resorted to illegal channels by reproducing the structures of criminal groups existing in their former countries such as the mafia. Mafia groups gave the immigrants a sense of belonging and offered protection in numbers.
Law enforcement authorities failed in controlling the rise of organized crime families by ignoring the massive influx of immigrants into the country. Immigration officials are usually susceptible to corruption by soliciting money from immigrants before allowing them into the country. In addition, their laxity in conducting border patrols and proper screening promoted illegal immigration. Consequently, ex-convicts and other criminals slipped into the country where they renewed criminal operations. Law enforcement officials encountered difficulties in identifying and arresting these criminals due to the high populations of undocumented immigrants spread out in several cities. Furthermore, mafia groups provided anonymity to such criminals making it hard for authorities to identify them.
Law enforcement authorities made significant strides in controlling the rise of organized crime families through several initiatives. Such efforts include the formation of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime, Senate Hearings on Organized crime, and the formation of a Task Force on organized crime (Finklea 4). These efforts led to an increase in the number of arrests and convictions. However, further research indicated that most of the convicted individuals were not members of organized crime families, but operated on their own. Consequently, the Congress enacted the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act in 1968. The Act granted finances and resources to law enforcement agencies within states to combat organized crime. The Act also mandated law enforcement agencies to use electronic surveillance bugs on suspected criminals in a bid to gain information on prospective crimes and prevent them from occurring. Despite the implementation of the policies, organized crime was still on the rise. This failure can be attributed to the deep sense of loyalty among members of crime families. Such commitment made it hard to persuade a member to act as a spy for the local authorities. Crime families such as the Gambino prescribed severe punishment for traitors ranging from physical torture to painful deaths. Such punishments were meant to instill fear and deter any traitorous act.
The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 led to the formation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The RICO was more effective than previous policies in combating organized crime. It permitted the prosecution of crime family members who engaged in racketeering. The Act was effective because it defined the meaning and scope of organized crime to guide law enforcement agencies in identifying members of crime families. Other acts were enacted to support the RICO such as the Money Laundering statute.
Poor economic conditions are usually the key causes of organized crime families. Most members are lured into the families as a means to secure income and power. Law enforcement authorities could have curbed the rise of the Gambino crime family by enforcing immigration policies, early disbandment of small gangs, inter-state agency collaboration, and increasing manpower.
Immigration policies include frequent border patrols, proper screening and documentation of immigrants, and restricting the number of immigrants allowed into the country. The implementation of such policies would have allowed only a small number of non-criminal immigrants to cross borders. Hence, economic resources would have sufficiently catered for their needs, preventing the need for illegal sources of income. As such, the Italian founders of the Gambino crime family might not have made it through the screening process or they might have led non-criminal lives if economic conditions were favorable.
Law enforcement agencies should have focused their efforts in eliminating small groups such as D’Aquila and Morello gangs before they strengthened their hold in the city. Research has shown that mafias and criminal syndicates usually have small beginnings in the form of unorganized and erratic street gangs. It only takes the uprising of an insidious leader with excellent organizational skills to turn an average street gang into a syndicate or a crime family. Therefore, it is better to curb organized crime in its early stages before its roots go deep.
Inter-state agency collaboration involves law enforcement initiatives spanning several states. This cooperation is necessary because the activities of crime families span several states. States can combine their manpower and resources to improve the effectiveness of their operations.
In conclusion, the rise of the Gambino crime family resulted from the loopholes in law enforcement and poor economic conditions. Its growth over the years was marred by rivalry, hostility, violence and murder. Law enforcement agencies have tried to bring it down over the years through several arrests and convictions. Their efforts are finally bearing fruit with the current prosecution of its leaders.
Abadinsky, Howard. Organized Crime. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1981. Web. 23 2014. <http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=HcoKAAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=laws+combating+organized+crime+families&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZcNxVOP2HsTNygOcrYD4Dg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=laws%20combating%20organized%20crime%20families&f=false>.
American Mafia History. Gambino Family: The Most Publicized Crime Family of the American Mafia. 2014. Web. 23 2014. <http://americanmafiahistory.com/gambino-family/>.
Finklea, Kristin M. Organized Crime in the United States: Trends and Issues for Congress. Washington: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2009. Web. 23 2014. <http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=DB2XbCAtmCwC&pg=PA4&dq=laws+combating+organized+crime+families&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZcNxVOP2HsTNygOcrYD4Dg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=laws%20combating%20organized%20crime%20families&f=false>.