Vincent Papa

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Vincent C. Papa
Born 1917
New York City
Died 1977 (aged 56–57)
Occupation Former drug lord
Criminal charge
Drug Dealing

Vincent C. Papa (1917 New York City – July 1977 Atlanta, Georgia) was an Italian-American mobster associated with the Lucchese crime family. He became notorious for masterminding the theft of the French Connection heroin from the New York Police Department (NYPD) property office.

Early years[edit]

Born in New York City, Papa grew up in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. A longtime partner of Long Island drug kingpin Anthony Loria Sr. Papa became a respected underworld figure.

French Connection Theft[edit]

A major narcotics distributor for many years, Papa along with Virgil Alessi plotted the famous French Connection drug thefts. Between 1969 and 1972, New York Police Department detectives stole an estimated 70 million dollars (street value) in confiscated narcotics from the New York City Police Property Clerk's office in Lower Manhattan.[citation needed] Over 400 pounds of heroin and cocaine disappeared back into the streets. Although some of the drugs were eventually recovered, the majority was lost forever. The French Connection theft became the biggest corruption scandal in NYPD history and one of the most spectacular crimes in city history. This theft was never solved.

Papa's crew, whose members included Loria, and a large group of detectives who would go to the property clerks office and steal the heroin, distributed close to $1 million in heroin along the East Coast of the United States during the early seventies.[citation needed] It was widely suspected that Papa sold the stolen drugs.

Prison and death[edit]

In 1975, Papa was convicted and sent to the Atlanta Federal Prison in Atlanta, Georgia.[1] In 1977, Papa was stabbed to death in prison by the Aryan Brotherhood, allegedly hired by rival mobster named Herbie Sperling. The motive for Papa's murder remains unclear. However, when prosecutors were still investigating the French Connection thefts, then-United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani allegedly leaked a deal that Papa had made with the government.[2] Papa had promised to release the names of agents working for the United States Organized Crime Strike Force who were giving information secretly to Papa's organization. Under the terms of the deal, he would not be prosecuted for heroin trafficking. Giuliani, desiring the publicity he would gain from prosecuting Papa for heroin trafficking, ignored the deal and spread the word that Papa had become an informant. This information prompted the Lucchese family to order Papa's murder. Soon afterwards, he was stabbed to death in prison.[citation needed]


Papa is buried in Queens, New York, in St. John's Cemetery, the so-called "Mafia's Boot Hill". This cemetery holds infamous underworld figures such as Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Joe Profaci, Vito Genovese, Joe Colombo, and Carlo Gambino.


  1. ^ "UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,v.Vincent PAPA, Defendant-Appellant". Justice. Argued Sept. 23, 1975.Decemberided April 2, 1976. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  2. ^ Scott Henry (2007-11-21). "A Rogue's Gallery of those who spent time at the Atlanta Federal pen". creativeloafing. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  • Gregory Wallance. Papa's Game (1981 ed.). Ballantine Books, New York, and Random House of Canada, Toronto, in arrangement with Rawson, Wade Publishers. ISBN 0-345-30168-4.