Trafficante crime family

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Trafficante crime family
Founded byIgnacio Antinori
Named afterSanto Trafficante Sr.
Founding locationTampa, Florida, United States
Years active1925–present
TerritoryHillsborough, Tampa Bay Area and the state of Florida.
EthnicityItalian, Italian-American as made men, and other ethnicities as "associates"
Criminal activitiesRacketeering, loansharking, extortion, contract, kidnapping, sex slavery, bribery, corruption, drug trafficking, murder, gambling, conspiracy, money laundering, bookmaking, contract, labor racketeering
AlliesFive Families
New Orleans crime family
Rivalsvarious gangs

The Trafficante crime family, also known as the Tampa Mafia, is a Mafia crime family based in Florida, United States.


Tampa's underworld[edit]

Tampa’s organized crime started with Charlie Wall who, in the 1920s, controlled a number of gambling rackets and corrupt government officials. Wall controlled Tampa from the neighborhood known as Ybor City, he employed Italians, Cubans and men of other ethnicities into his organization. Wall's only competitor was Tampa's earliest Mafia boss Ignacio Antinori.[1]

Antinori gang[edit]

The first Italian gang in the Tampa Bay area was created by Ignacio Antinori in 1925. Antinori, a Sicilian-born immigrant, became a well-known drug kingpin and the Italian crime boss of Tampa in the late 1920s. A smaller Italian gang in the area was controlled by Santo Trafficante Sr., who had lived in Tampa since the age of 18. Trafficante had already set up Bolita games throughout the city and was a very powerful man. Antinori took notice of Santo Trafficante and invited him into his organization and together they expanded the Bolita games across the state. By the 1930s Antinori and Wall were in a bloody war for ten years, which would later be known as "Era of Blood". Wall's closest associate, Evaristo "Tito" Rubio, was shot on his porch on March 8, 1938. The war ended in the 1940s with Antinori being shot and killed with a sawn-off shotgun. Both Wall's and Antinori's organizations were weakened leaving Santo Trafficante as one of the last and most powerful bosses in Tampa.[1]

Trafficante Sr. era[edit]

Santo Trafficante Sr. had now taken over a majority of the city and started to teach his son Santo Trafficante Jr. how to run the city. In Trafficante Sr.'s adult life he portrayed himself as a successful Tampa cigar factory owner.[2] Santo was being watched closely by police and made Salvatore "Red" Italiano the acting boss. With the untimely Kefauver hearings and Charlie Wall testifying in 1950, both Trafficantes fled to Cuba. He always wanted to make it big in Cuban casinos and dispatched his son, Santo, Jr., to Havana in 1946 to help operate a mob owned casino. The Tampa mob made a considerable amount of money in Cuba, but never achieved its ambition of making the island part of its territory. After the hearings ended the Trafficantes returned to Tampa to find out that Italiano had just fled to Mexico leaving Jimmy Lumia the biggest mobster in the city. Santo had Lumia killed after finding out he was bad mouthing him while he was in Cuba and he took over again. In 1953 Santo Jr. survived a shooting. The family suspected the perpetrator was Charlie Wall and consequently, in 1955, had him killed. Trafficante remained the boss of Tampa until he died of natural causes in 1954.[1][3]

Trafficante Jr. era[edit]

Santo Trafficante at Sans Souci Cabaret, 1955

Santo Trafficante, Jr. succeeded his father as the boss of Tampa and ruled his family with an iron fist.[3] Despite numerous stunted ambitions, he was regarded as one of the most powerful mob bosses of the American Mafia. Santo Jr. was born in the United States on November 15, 1914 and was one of five sons of Mafia boss Santo Trafficante. He maintained close working ties with the Lucchese and Bonanno crime families from New York City. Santo Jr. worked closely with Lucchese family boss Tommy Lucchese, who was a friend of his father, and a man who helped train him in the 1940s.[4]

Santo Jr. was known to have been deeply involved in the CIA efforts to involve the underworld in assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.[3] Under pressure of a court order granting him immunity from prosecution, but threatening him with contempt if he refused to talk, Trafficante admitted to a Congressional committee in 1975 that he had in the early 1960s recruited other mobsters to assassinate Castro.[citation needed] "It was like World War II" he told the committee. "They told me to go to the draft board and sign up."[citation needed] In 1978, Trafficante was called to testify before members of the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations investigating possible links between Lee Harvey Oswald and anti-Castro Cubans, including the theory that Castro had President John F. Kennedy killed in retaliation for the CIA's attempts to assassinate Castro.[5]

Santo, Jr. never spent a day in jail, and he died of natural causes in 1987.[6]

LoScalzo era[edit]

In 1987 Vincent LoScalzo became boss of the Trafficante family and Florida became open territory. The Five Families of New York City could work in any city in the state. LoScalzo's new family was smaller because many of the older mobsters were dead or retired.[7] He has interests in gambling, prostitution, narcotics, union racketeering, hijacking and fencing stolen goods. He controls a few bars, lounges, restaurants, night clubs and liquor stores across Florida. Loscalzo has ties to California, New Jersey, and New York as well as being connected to the Sicilian Mafia. On July 1, 1989, LoScalzo was indicted on racketeering charges that included grand theft. The charges were later dropped and then reinstated. LoScalzo plead no contest on October 7, 1997 and received three months of probation. In 1992, LoScalzo was arrested at the Tampa International Airport for carrying a loaded .38-caliber pistol in his brief case. The weapon was detected by an X-ray scanner. He was convicted in 1999, and was sentenced to 60 days in prison.[7]

South Florida operations[edit]

Santo Jr. started the family's south Florida crew in the early 1980s, putting Steven Bruno Raffa in charge. Bruno ran the crew with associates and freelancers after the death of Santo Jr. Raffa maintained a good relationship with LoScalzo, the new boss of the family and Genovese mobster John Mamone. In 2000 nineteen members of the crew were arrested and Raffa committed suicide.[8][9]

North Florida Operations[edit]

The Trafficante Family expanded their reach into North Florida cities like Daytona and Jacksonville during the late 1980s. The North Florida operations were run by the Maglianos & Granados. The activities of this crew included money laundering, racketeering, narcotics distribution, and illegal gambling. In May 2015, 13 people in Jacksonville were indicted by the Federal government on money laundering charges.[10]

Current status[edit]

As of November 25, 2007, Vincent LoScalzo is a 70+ year old semi-retired mobster and a "regular Joe" according to Scott Deitche, author of Cigar City Mafia. The old family membership has died and the Tampa Mob has fallen into the shadows of the New York mobs.[11]

Gambinos in Tampa[edit]

Recently[when?] statements have spread across Florida that John A. "Junior" Gotti, son of the late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, has been running organized crime in Tampa since his release from prison in 2005. Gotti is allegedly a captain in the Gambino family. On August 5, 2008 Gotti was indicted on charges of racketeering, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking. He and five others were indicted by a Florida grand jury.[12]

Historical leadership[edit]

Boss (official and acting)[edit]

  • 1920–1940 — Ignacio Antinori — murdered on October 23, 1940.
  • 1940–1954 — Santo Trafficante, Sr. — died in August 1954 of a heart attack.[13]
    • Acting 1946–1948 — Salvatore "Red" Italiano — Ignazio's nephew, fled to Mexico.[14]
    • Acting 1948–1950 — James "Head of the Elks" Lumia — murdered on June 5, 1950.
  • 1954–1987 — Santo Trafficante, Jr. — died on March 17, 1987.
  • 1987–present — Vincent LoScalzo[15]


  • 1920–1940 — Santo Trafficante, Sr. — promoted to boss.
  • 1940–1948 — Salvatore "Red" Italiano — fled to Mexico.
  • 1948–1950 — James "Head of the Elks" Lumia — murdered on June 5, 1950.
  • 1950–1954 — Santo Trafficante, Jr. — promoted to boss.
  • 1954–1987 — Vincent LoScalzo — promoted to boss.
  • 1987–1994 — Frank "Daddy Frank" Diecidue — longtime Tampa member; died October 19, 1994.[15]
  • 1994–2003 — Frank Albano[15] died September 10, 2003[16]

Current members[edit]

  • BossVincent LoScalzo
  • SoldierSalvatore "Sam" Carollo — became a soldier in the Tampa family during the 1980s, reportedly brought into the family by Vincent LoScalzo. His legitimate activities include being a property developer in Pasco County, Florida. He was formerly the manager for the Quail Hollow Country Club, which is now owned by one of his sons, Andre Carollo.

Past members[edit]

  • Ignazio Italiano – was a friend of Profaci family boss Joseph Profaci. They were from the same town of Villabate in Sicily. Ignazio was a produce salesman and the uncle to Tampa mobster Salvatore "Red" Italiano. He died on August 11, 1930.[14]

Past associates[edit]

  • Frank Ragano — was the attorney and main advisor to Santo Trafficante Jr.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Newell, Mike. Donnie Brasco (1997). A Hollywood film about former FBI agent Joseph Pistone. Val Avery played Santo Trafficante, Jr.
  • Poulette, Michel. Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999). A made-for-television film about the rise and fall of the Bonanno crime family. The actor John Burns played the part of Mafia boss Santo Trafficante, Jr.
  • Guzzo, Pete. Ghost of Ybor (2008). A made-for-television film about the life of the American gangster Charlie Wall. It shows the Trafficante crime family at the end of the film.



  1. ^ a b c "Deitche, Scott. "The Mob" April 26, 2001". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  2. ^ Deitche, Scott. "Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld". New York: Barricade Books. 2004
  3. ^ a b c Deitche, Scott. "The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr". New York: Barricade Books. 2008
  4. ^ Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful mafia empires by Selwyn Raab (pg. 105)
  5. ^ "Witness denies assassination, Cuba tied". Eugene Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. UPI. September 28, 1978. p. 8A. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  6. ^ Deitche, Scott. "The Everything Mafia Book, Second Edition". New York: Barricade Books. 2007
  7. ^ a b Weimar, Carrie. "Throwback: Tampa mob trail". ST. Petersburg Times. October 16, 2006 [1]
  8. ^ Aaronson, Trevor (25 March 2004). "The Snitch". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  9. ^ Deitche, Scott M. (January 2001). "The Suicide Of Steve Raffa". Rick Porrello's American
  10. ^ Staff, Scott Johnson, "How did alleged organized crime conspiracy unfold?". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  11. ^ Van Sickler, Michael. "Kingpin of no Kingdom: A Brandom man Denies any mafia ties". ST. Petersburg Times. November 25, 2007 [2]
  12. ^ Syndicate, The Chicago. "Entire John "Junior" Gotti Tampa Gambino Crime Family Indictment". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  13. ^ Hunt, Thomas. "The American Mafia - Tampa Crime Bosses". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b Critchley, David. The origins of organized crime in America: the New York City mafia, 1891–1931. 2009. Routledge Publishing.[3]
  15. ^ a b c Scott Deitche. The Tampa Mob. and Mario Machi. Tampa, Florida. [4]
  16. ^ "Frank Albano Obituary". Legacy. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 11 October 2020.


External links