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Cement shoes is a slang term adopted by the American Mafia crime world for a method of execution that involves weighting down a victim and throwing him or her into the water to drown. It has become adopted in the US as a humorous term representing any exotic threat from criminals. This gives rise to the term of someone who "sleeps with the fishes", a euphemism for the deceased. It was frequently used by the Gambino crime family in the prohibition era.
Cement shoes traditionally involve binding or incapacitating the victim and placing each foot into the two spaces of a cinderblock, which is then filled with wet cement. Sometimes a plain bucket or box is used. When the cement hardens, the victim is thrown into a river, lake or the ocean. It is unclear how often such a cumbersome and time-consuming method of execution was actually used, outside of Hollywood movies. It could also be used for aiding in the disposal of a corpse already dispatched by other means so that the victim is never found if deposited in deep water.
A similar term is cement overcoat.
- Adams, Cecil (November 14, 2008). "Were "concrete shoes" a favored technique of mob hitmen?". The Straight Dope. Washington City Paper. Archived from the original on November 2008.