A $10 million nut heist is a window into the shady, lucrative world of large-scale food theft. Food and beverages have replaced electronics as the most-stolen good in the US. Criminals are concentrating their efforts on fewer heists of larger value, and as stolen goods go, nuts have a lot of appeal. They’re expensive. They have a long shelf life. They have no serial numbers and can’t be electronically tagged or traced.
Yesterday's biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas has led to nine deaths, 18 injuries, and 165 arrests. Vox cites a 2013 FBI Report stating that organized motorcycle gangs comprise about 2.5% of gang members nationwide, but represent a larger threat to public safety than their numbers suggest. Plenty of observations have been made about the difference between police reaction to this shooting compared to protests in Baltimore and Ferguson.
The Intercept investigates the Mexican government's account of the September 26, 2014 disappearance of 43 students of the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, also known as the Ayotzinapa Normal School. Part One. Part Two. [more inside]
"Saddam had his spider hole. Manson had Barker Ranch. For James “Whitey” Bulger, the anonymity of advanced age provided ample cover for him to hide out 16 years in Santa Monica, a stash of blood money stuffed in the walls and guns at the ready." The last days of America’s most wanted mobster.
Fuhgedddaboutit! This morning, FBI agents conducted a multi-city raid across the Northeast, busting over 120 suspected mobsters in one of the largest raids in FBI history. The Village Voice blog helpfully provides this list of the 20 best nicknames of the suspects, including such immortals as Junior Lollipops, Tony Bagels, Jimmy Gooch, and Vinnie Carwash. They should have known something was up when the feds came looking for Joey Cupcakes.
The Rise and Fall of Frank Ma, Last of New York's Asian Godfathers: How a Chinese immigrant became a crime lord, ordered a hit that left the wrong men dead, sparked a 16-year international investigation and finally landed in prison for the rest of his life.
The Five Families were established by Charlie "Lucky" Luciano in the wake of the Castellammarese War (1929 - September 10, 1931), a gang war in New York between partisans of Joe "The Boss" Masseria and those of Salvatore Maranzano. The arrangement, under the administration of The Commission, was created to divide the city among the gangs with mutual interests, and prevent the continuous grab for more territory. Of course, the arrangement has been anything but peaceful, and the Five Families have all gone through periods of prosperity and decline. So who are they, and how are they doing now? [more inside]
Real L.A. Noir. (Video/audio auto-plays). Los Angeles Times reporter Paul Lieberman has been chronicling the era of the LAPD Gangster Squad, a secret division of the department that tried to combat the mobs of Jack Dragna and Mickey Cohen in the 1940s and '50s. (Keep the cast of characters straight with this handy chart.)
Among industrialized nations, Japan has a pretty low rate of violent crime, a relatively high number of police, and a virtually non-existent acquittal rate. Yet, somehow the Yakuza persists.
"The ‘Ndrangheta cannot be beheaded.” Organized crime is Italy's biggest industry. Most people are more familiar with the Sicilian Mafia or maybe even the Neopolitan Camorra, but it's the Calabrian 'Ndranghta (very in-depth article) that has police around the world worried now, especially after they were blamed for a six-person murder in Germany this summer. [more inside]
The Hollywood moguls were appalled...Hitherto, Tinseltown had the police and politicians in its capacious pocket, yet here, landing like a ton of hot manure, was this crummy magazine from the east coast. A sharp look from British Journalism Review at the career of Robert Harrison, whose 1952 magazine Confidential single-handedly "opened the floodgates of tell-all sleaze." Seems Harrison branched out from publishing a long string of 1940s girlie mags after being inspired by the Estes Kefauver organized crime hearings that gripped early TV audiences in the U.S.A.
Organized crime growing in Canada, police chiefs ask for public to help Police chiefs in Canada seem to confuse Canadians with Batman. Who do we take on first? The Hell's Angels, the Mafia, or the Asian gangs. So many gangs, so few Batgadgets.
GangRule - the history of organized crime in New York City. A growing database of photos, biographies, newspaper clippings and family trees from 1890 on. And for the godfather trackers among us, there's also Boston Mafia, which includes the history of a notorious contemporary fugitive, lately in the news via testimony from his brother, Billy Bulger.
The Maltesos. Well, there's no Webistics, and Big Pussy hasn't turned up floating down the Fox River, but here's your modern American mob family, suburban style. Betty Loren-Maltese, longtime mayor of the Town of Cicero, which abuts Chicago's West Side, has been indicted for looting the town's health insurance system to the tune of at least $10 million. The US Attorney says it is the largest dollar amount in any single organized crime investigation. [more inside]
John Salvati: not funny. Man imprissoned for 30 YEARS, known to be innocent by FBI, FBI kept him there b/c if the real perp was caught, dozens of informants would have been revealed. 30 years, gone, makes me sick feeling. There will be more news on this soon, I hope.
High-tech world mafias breeze past borders. This is a good introduction to a disturbing and daunting problem that touches on many issues: online privacy, bureaucratic inertia, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the future of immigration policy. In the underworld, dealing drugs is day-trading while dealing humans is blue chip investing.