Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Crips gang

The Crips are a primarily, but not exclusively, African-American gang. They were founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1969 mainly by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. What was once a single alliance between two autonomous gangs is now a loosely connected network of individual sets, often engaged in open warfare with one another.

The Crips are one of the largest and most violent associations of street gangs in the United States, with an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 members. The gang is known to be involved in murders, robberies, and drug dealing, among many other criminal pursuits. The gang is known for its gang members' use of the color blue in their clothing. However, this practice has waned due to police crackdowns on gang members.

Crips are publicly known to have an intense and bitter rivalry with the Bloods. Crips have been documented in the U.S. military, found in bases in the United States and abroad.

History


Stanley Tookie Williams met Raymond Lee Washington in 1969, and the two decided to unite their local gang members from the west and east sides of South Central Los Angeles in order to battle neighboring street gangs. Most of the members were 17 years old. Williams discounted the sometimes cited founding date of 1969 in his memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption. Gang activity in South Central Los Angeles has its roots in a variety of factors dating back to the 1950s and '60s, including post-World War II economic decline leading to joblessness and poverty, racial segregation leading to the formation of black "street clubs" by young African American men who were excluded from organizations such as the Boy Scouts, and the waning of black nationalist organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the Black Power Movement.

By 1978, there were 45 Crips gangs, called sets, operating in Los Angeles. They were heavily involved in the production of PCP, marijuana and amphetamines. On March 11, 1979, Stanley Tookie Williams, a member of Westside Crips was arrested for four murders and then on August 8, 1979, Raymond Washington was gunned down. Wshington had been against Crip infighting and after his death several Crip sets started fighting against each other. The Crips leadrship was dismantled prompting a gang-war between the Rollin' 60 Crips and Eght Tray Gngster Crips. The East Coast Crips and the Hoover Crips severed their alliance after Washington's death. By 1980 the Crips were in turmoil warring with the Bloods and against each other. The growth and power of the gang really took off in the early 1980s when crack cocaine hit the streets. The huge profits from distribution of crack cocaine induced many Crips to establish new markets in other cities and states. As a result, Crip membership grew steadily and by late 1980s it was the one of the largest street-gangs in the country. In the early 1980s Crips sets began distributing crack cocaine in Los Angeles. The huge profits resulting from crack cocaine distribution induced many Crips members to establish new markets in other cities and states. In addition, many young men in other states adopted the Crips name and lifestyle. As a result of these two factors, Crips membership increased throughout the 1980s, making it one of the largest street gang associations in the country. In 1999, there were at least 600 Crips sets with more than 30,000 members transporting drugs in the United States.

Etymology

The original name for the alliance was "Cribs," a name narrowed down from a list of many options, and chosen unanimously from three final choices, which included the Black Overlords, and the Assassins. Cribs was chosen to reflect the young age of the majority of the gang members. The name "Cribs" evolved into the name "Crips" when gang members began carrying around canes to display their "pimp" status. People in the neighborhood then began calling them cripples, or "Crips" for short. A Los Angeles Sentinel article in February 1972 referred to some members as "Crips" (for cripples). The name had no political, organizational, cryptic, or acronymic meaning, though some have suggested it stands for "Common Revolution In Progress", a backronym. According to the film Bastards of the Party directed by a member of the Bloods, the name represented "Community Revolutionary Interparty Service" or "Community Reform Interparty Service". Williams, in his memoir, further refuted claims that the group was a spin-off of the Black Panther Party or formed for a community agenda, the name "depicted a fighting alliance against street gangs—nothing more, nothing less." Washington, who attended Fremont High School, was the leader of the East Side Crips, and Williams, who attended Washington High School, led the West Side Crips.


Crip showing a gang signal.

Williams recalled that a blue bandana was first worn by Crips founding member Buddha, as a part of his color-coordinated clothing of blue Levi's, a blue shirt, and dark blue suspenders. A blue bandana was worn in tribute to Buddha after he was shot and killed on February 23, 1973, which eventually became the color of blue associated with Crips.

Chain of Command

Initially Crips leaders did not occupy leadership positions, but were recognized as leaders because of their personal charisma and influence. These leaders gave priority to expanding the gang's membership to increase its power. The gang became increasingly violent as they attempted to expand their turf.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Mafia Mexicana, Mexican Mafia or La eMe


The Mexican Mafia (Spanish: Mafia Mexicana [maˈfia mexiˈkana]), also known as La Eme (Spanish for "the M"), is a highly organized Mexican American criminal organization in the United States. Despite its name, the Mexican Mafia did not originate in Mexico and is entirely a U.S. criminal prison organization. Sureños, including MS-13 and Florencia 13,use the number 13 to show allegiance to the Mexican Mafia. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Law enforcement officials report that La eMe is the most powerful gang within the California prison system. Government officials state that there are currently 155–300 official members of the Mexican Mafia with around 990 associates who assist La eMe in carrying out its illegal activities in the hopes of becoming full members.

History
The Mexican Mafia was formed in 1957 by 13 Hispanic street gang members from different Los Angeles neighborhoods that were all incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution; a California Youth Authority facility which is now an adult state prison in Tracy, California. They formed in order to protect themselves from other prison gangs at the time. The founder of La eMe is Luis "Huero Buff" Flores who was an active member of the Hawaiian Gardens gang in Hawaiian Gardens, California. Gang warfare between Hispanic neighborhoods was the norm during the 1950s and 60s so the fact that Luis Flores was able to get established enemies to set aside their rivalries upon entry into the prison system was something that was not thought possible. This requirement exists to present day. Hispanic street gangs like White Fence, OVS, Avenues, Clanton 14, Varrio Nuevo Estrada, San Fer, and Arizona Maravilla were already into their second decade and firmly established as self-sustaining entities. Luis Flores initially recruited violent members to the gang in an attempt to create a highly feared organization which could control the black market activities of the Deuel prison facilities. La eMe member Ramon "Mundo" Mendoza claims that in the beginning the overall goal was to terrorize the prison system and enjoy prison comforts while doing time.

As new members of La Eme filtered out back into the streets, Anacleta "Annie" Ramirez, a well-known member of the East Los Angeles community, took many of them under her wing and paired them up with neighborhood youngsters who lacked direction. Ramirez, a sharp, tough woman, taught the youngsters discipline, rules of street life, and, at first, petty crime. This later escalated to her role as a shot caller—as drugs became a major part of the trade—who would get rid of her enemies by ordering youth loyal to her on missions. After she had given the directive, many of her enemies were reportedly murdered on sight.

Rise
By 1961 violence got so bad at the Deuel Vocational Institution that administrators transferred a number of the charter La eMe members to San Quentin Penitentiary in the hopes of discouraging their violent behavior. This tactic failed. Cheyenne Cadena arrived on the lower yard of San Quentin and was met by a six-foot-five, 300-pound black inmate who planted a kiss on his face and announced this scrawny teenager would now be his 'bitch. Cadena returned a short time later, walked up to the unsuspecting predator, and stabbed him to death with a jailhouse knife, or shank. There were more than a thousand inmates on the yard and no witnesses stepped forward. A string of other slayings soon followed as La eMe members sought to establish a reputation among the inmates of San Quentin. The Mexican Mafia's quest for complete control alienated many other Mexican-American inmates who were fed up with Mexican Mafia stabbing, killing, and stealing their watches, rings, cigarettes and anything else of value. Some of them secretly founded a new prison gang called La Nuestra Familia (NF) or "Our Family." It was first established in the mid-1960s at the California Training Facility in Soledad. Some of the early members were from the Los Angeles area, but NF soon drew inmates primarily from rural communities in Northern California. The Mexican Mafia saw Nuestra Familia as inferior and "just a bunch of farmers", or farmeros. However, in 1968 at San Quentin, a full-scale riot broke out after a Mexican Mafia soldier, or soldado, stole a pair of shoes from a Nuestra Familia sympathizer. Nineteen inmates were stabbed and one La eMe associate ended up dead. The battle became known as the "Shoe War" and it established Nuestra Familia as the major La eMe rival.


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'Ndrangheta Mafia Calabraise


The ‛Ndrangheta (Italian: ‛ndràngheta, Italian pronunciation: [n̩ˈdraŋɡeta]) is a Mafia-type criminal organization in Italy, centered in Calabria. Despite not being as famous abroad as the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, and having been considered more rural compared to the Neapolitan Camorra and the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita, the 'Ndrangheta became the most powerful crime syndicate of Italy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While commonly tied together with the Sicilian Mafia, the 'Ndrangheta operates independently from the Sicilian Mafia, though there is contact between the two, due to the geographical proximity, and shared culture and language of Calabria and Sicily. A US diplomat estimated that the organization's drug trafficking, extortion and money-laundering activities accounted for at least 3 percent of Italy's GDP. Since the 1950s, the organization has spread towards the north of Italy and worldwide. The 'Ndrangheta is currently the most powerful criminal organization in the world with a revenue that stands at around 53 billion Euros annually (72 billion U.S. dollars - 44 billion British pounds).


Origin and etymology
In 1861 the prefect of Reggio Calabria already noticed the presence of so-called camorristi, a term used at the time since there was no formal name for the phenomenon in Calabria (the Camorra was the older and better known criminal organization in Naples). Since the 1880s, there is ample evidence of 'Ndrangheta-type groups in police reports and sentences by local courts. At the time they were often being referred to as the picciotteria, onorata società (honoured society) or camorra and mafia.

These secret societies in the areas of Calabria rich in olives and vines were distinct from the often anarchic forms of banditry and were organized hierarchically with a code of conduct that included omertà – the code of silence – according to a sentence from the court in Reggio Calabria in 1890. An 1897 sentence from the court in Palmi mentioned a written code of rules found in the village of Seminara based on honour, secrecy, violence, solidarity (often based on blood relationships) and mutual assistance.

In the folk culture surrounding 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, references to the Spanish Garduña often appear. Aside from these references, however, there is nothing to substantiate a link between the two organizations. The Calabrian word 'Ndrangheta derives from Greek ἀνδραγαθία andragathía for "heroism" and manly "virtue" or ἀνδράγαϑος andragathos, compound words of ἀνήρ, anēr (gen. andros), i.e. man[9] and ἀγαθός, agathos, i.e. good, brave, meaning a courageous man. In many areas of Calabria the verb 'ndranghitiari, from the Greek verb andragathizesthai, means "to engage in a defiant and valiant attitude".

The first time the word 'Ndrangheta was mentioned before a wider audience was by the Calabrian writer Corrado Alvaro in the Corriere della Sera in September 1955.

Modern history
Until 1975, the 'Ndrangheta restricted their Italian operations to Calabria, mainly involved in extortion and blackmailing. Then a gang war started, killing 300 people. The prevailing faction began to kidnap rich people from northern Italy for ransom. It is believed that John Paul Getty III was one of their victims. The Second 'Ndrangheta war raged from 1985 to 1991. The bloody six-year war between the Condello-Imerti-Serraino-Rosmini clans and the De Stefano-Tegano-Libri-Latella clans led to more than 600 deaths. In the 1990s, the organization started to invest in the illegal international drug trade, mainly importing cocaine from Colombia.

Deputy President of the regional parliament of Calabria Francesco Fortugno was killed by the 'Ndrangheta on 16 October 2005 in Locri. Demonstrations against the organization then ensued, with young protesters carrying banderoles reading "Ammazzateci tutti!", Italian for "Kill us all". The national government started a large-scale enforcement operation in Calabria and arrested numerous 'ndranghetisti including the murderers of Fortugno.

In March 2006, the national anti-Mafia prosecutor announced the discovery of a narco submarine in Colombia, allegedly being constructed on behalf of the 'Ndrangheta for smuggling cocaine.

The 'Ndrangheta has recently expanded its activities to Northern Italy, mainly to sell drugs and to invest in legal businesses which could be used for money laundering. The mayor of Buccinasco was threatened when he tried to halt these investments; in May 2007 twenty members of 'Ndrangheta were arrested in Milan. On 30 August 2007, hundreds of police raided the town of San Luca, the focal point of the bitter San Luca feud between rival clans among the 'Ndrangheta. Over 30 men and women, linked to the killing of six Italian men in Germany, were arrested.

On 9 October 2012, following a months long investigation by the central government the City Council of Reggio Calabria headed by Mayor Demetrio Arena (it) was dissolved for alleged ties to the group. Arena and all the 30 city councilors were sacked to prevent any "mafia contagion" in the local government. This was the first time a government of a capital of a provincial government was dismissed. Three central government-appointed administrators will govern the city for 18 months until new elections. The move came after unnamed councilors were suspected of having ties to the 'Ndrangheta under the 10-year centre-right rule of Mayor Giuseppe Scopelliti.

'Ndrangheta infiltration of political offices is not limited to Calabria. On October 10, 2012, the commissioner of Milan's regional government in charge of public housing, Domenico Zambetti of People of Freedom (PDL), was arrested on accusations he paid the 'Ndrangheta in exchange for an election victory and to extort favours and contracts from the housing official, including construction tenders for the World Expo 2015 in Milan. The probe of alleged vote-buying underscores the infiltration of the 'Ndrangheta in the political machine of Italy's affluent northern Lombardy region. Zambetti’s arrest marked the biggest case of 'Ndrangheta infiltration so far uncovered in northern Italy and prompted calls for Lombardy governor Roberto Formigoni to resign.

In 2014, in FBI and Italian police's joint operation New Bridge arrested members of both the Gambino and Bonanno families. In June 2014, Pope Francis denounced the 'Ndrangheta as the "adoration of evil and contempt of the common good" and vowed that the Church would help tackle organized crime, saying that Mafiosi were excommunicated. A spokesperson for the Vatican clarified that the pope's words did not constitute a formal excommunication under canon law, as a period of legal process is required beforehand.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dillinger Crosses a Line

An early Dillinger wanted flyer
An early Dillinger wanted flyer.
An elderly janitor walked into the cell block of the Lake County Jail at Crown Point, Indiana. The date: March 3, 1934. It was a relatively new facility, built onto the back of the sheriff’s house in 1926, easy to clean, impossible to escape from. The addition of a notorious prisoner—John Dillinger—would prove that. Or so the sheriff thought.
The Year of the  Gangster
Part 1: Dillinger Crosses a Line
Part 2: Bonnie & Clyde Redux
Part 3: Top Ten Dillinger Myths
Part 4: ‘Pretty Boy’ Falls
Part 5: Firefight on Highway 12
As the janitor entered the cell, the prisoner jumped him and jammed a gun—actually a piece of wood carved in the shape of one—into his ribs. Quickly, through a combination of bravado and desperation, Dillinger tricked half a dozen guards back to the cell block, confiscated their weapons, and jailed the jailors.
On that day, Dillinger was 30 years old. He was of medium build and average height, with brown, thinning hair. His most distinguishing feature was a roguish smile, which he had put to good use in a series of press photos with the prosecuting attorney Robert Estill and the sheriff upon his extradition to Crown Point. The chummy nature of the photos contributed to both these officials losing their jobs that year. And Dillinger’s charm had already begun to captivate the American people, who began to see him as part Robin Hood, part vicious thug.
This photograph and similar ones taken that day helped lead to the firing of Lake County prosecutor Robert Estill (to Dillinger's left) and the sheriff (not pictured, but her arm is holding Estill's).
This photograph and similar ones taken that day helped lead to the firing of Lake County prosecutor Robert Estill (to Dillinger’s left) and the sheriff (not pictured, but her arm is holding Estill’s). AP photo.
The notorious gangster had been captured in Arizona two months earlier. He was wanted in connection with the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer named William O’Malley. At the time Dillinger was not on our radar; he had committed no federal crimes. But we had been assisting Ohio law enforcement in their search for him after he was freed from a Lima jail by his confederates in the fall of 1933.
Telegram of Chicago Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis to Director Hoover on March 3, 1934, Page 1
A telegram from Chicago Special Agent in Charge
Melvin Purvis to Director Hoover on Dillinger’s
escape from the Crown Point jail. See the high
resolution version of page one and page two.
Now Dillinger had escaped once more. In making the break, he’d stolen the sheriff’s car and driven it to Chicago, 50 or so miles northwest of Crown Point. In the process, he crossed the Indiana/Illinois border and violated the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, commonly called the “Dyer Act.” John Dillinger was now a federal fugitive and an FBI subject.
Over the next several months, the Bureau tracked Dillinger and a wide array of violent criminals who worked with him—making mistakes along the way, but ultimately bringing these violent criminals to justice.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of that chase. More importantly, it is the 75th anniversary of the emergence of the FBI as an organization of national and international stature.
The Bureau’s success in dealing with the gangsters led to significant changes in the FBI and law enforcement nationwide. Over the next few months, we will spotlight what we are calling “The Year of the Gangster” on this website through stories, photographs, and multimedia presentations, along with some new case details. We will tell how we went after such desperados as Bonnie and Clyde, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, “Baby Face” Nelson, and more. We will examine the social and political changes that arose from these criminal threats, bring to light long-forgotten historical sources, and consider the role that the Gangster Era played in the evolution of the FBI and its portrayal in American popular culture.
Next month, look for a story on the Bureau and Bonnie and Clyde, including a newly released field office file on the notorious crime couple.

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American Gangster, 1924-1938

The “war to end all wars” was over, but a new one was just beginning—on the streets of America.
It wasn’t much of a fight, really—at least at the start.
On the one side was a rising tide of professional criminals, made richer and bolder by Prohibition, which had turned the nation “dry” in 1920. In one big city alone— Chicago—an estimated 1,300 gangs had spread like a deadly virus by the mid-1920s.
Al “Scarface” Capone in a 1929 mug shot
Al “Scarface” Capone in a 1929 mug shot
There was no easy cure. With wallets bursting from bootlegging profits, gangs outfitted themselves with “Tommy” guns and operated with impunity by paying off politicians and police alike. Rival gangs led by the powerful Al “Scarface” Capone and the hot-headed George “Bugs” Moran turned the city streets into a virtual war zone with their gangland clashes. By 1926, more than 12,000 murders were taking place every year across America.
On the other side was law enforcement, which was outgunned (literally) and ill-prepared at this point in history to take on the surging national crime wave. Dealing with the bootlegging and speakeasies was challenging enough, but the “Roaring Twenties” also saw bank robbery, kidnapping, auto theft, gambling, and drug trafficking become increasingly common crimes. More often than not, local police forces were hobbled by the lack of modern tools and training. And their jurisdictions stopped abruptly at their borders.
Attorney General
Attorney General
Harlan Fiske Stone
In the young Bureau of Investigation, things were not much better. In the early twenties, the agency was no model of efficiency. It had a growing reputation for politicized investigations. In 1923, in the midst of the Teapot Dome scandal that rocked the Harding Administration, the nation learned that Department of Justice officials had sent Bureau agents to spy on members of Congress who had opposed its policies. Not long after the news of these secret activities broke, President Calvin Coolidge fired Harding’s Attorney General Harry Daugherty, naming Harlan Fiske Stone as his successor in 1924.
A good housecleaning was in order for the Bureau, and it came at the hands of a young lawyer by the name of J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover had joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and had quickly risen through its ranks. In 1921, he was named Assistant Director of the Bureau. Three years later, Stone named him Director. Hoover would go on to serve for nearly another half century.
nationalacademy,.jpg
The first graduates of the Bureau’s training program for national police exectives, the forerunner of today’s National Academy, in 1935. Since then, the National Academy has graduated more than 41,000 officers from 166 countries.

A young J. Edgar Hoover
A young J. Edgar Hoover
At the outset, the 29-year-old Hoover was determined to reform the Bureau, quickly and thoroughly, to make it a model of professionalism. He did so by weeding out the “political hacks” and incompetents, laying down a strict code of conduct for agents, and instituting regular inspections of Headquarters and field operations. He insisted on rigorous hiring criteria, including background checks, interviews, and physical tests for all special agent applicants, and in January 1928, he launched the first formal training for incoming agents, a two-month course of instruction and practical exercises in Washington, D.C. Under Hoover’s direction, new agents were also required to be 25 to 35 years old, preferably with experience in law or accounting.
When Hoover took over in 1924, the Bureau had about 650 employees, including 441 special agents. In five years, with the rash of firings it had just 339 special agents and less than 600 total employees. But it was beginning to become the organized, professional, and effective force that Hoover envisioned.
One important step in that direction came during Hoover’s first year at the helm, when the Bureau was given the responsibility of consolidating the nation’s two major collections of fingerprint files. In the summer of 1924, Hoover quickly created an Identification Division (informally called “Ident” in the organization for many years to come) to gather prints from police agencies nationwide and to search them upon request for matches to criminals and crime evidence.
New agents train on the rooftop of the Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C., where FBI Headquarters was located from 1933 to 1972
New agents train on the rooftop of the Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C., where FBI Headquarters was located from 1933 to 1972

It was a vital new tool for all of law enforcement—the first major building block in Hoover’s growing quest to bring the discipline of science to Bureau investigations and scientific services to law enforcement nationwide. Combined with its identification orders, or IOs—early wanted posters that included fingerprints and all manner of details about criminal suspects on the run—the Bureau was fast becoming a national hub for crime records. In the late 1920s, the Bureau began exchanging fingerprints with Canada and added more friendly foreign governments in 1932; the following year, it created a corresponding civil fingerprint file for non-criminal cases. By 1936, the agency had a total reservoir of 100,000 fingerprint cards; by 1946, that number had swelled to 100 million.
Welcome to the World of Fingerprints
We take it for granted now, but at the turn of the twentieth century the use of fingerprints to identify criminals was still in its infancy.
More popular was the Bertillon system, which measured dozens of features of a criminal’s face and body and recorded the series of precise numbers on a large card along with a photograph. After all, the thinking went, what were the chances that two different people would look the same and have identical measurements in all the minute particulars logged by the Bertillon method?
Will West
Will West
William West
William West
Not great, of course. But inevitably a case came along to beat the odds.
It happened this way. In 1903, a convicted criminal named Will West was taken to Leavenworth federal prison in Kansas. The clerk at the admissions desk, thinking he recognized West, asked if he’d ever been to Leavenworth. The new prisoner denied it. The clerk took his Bertillon measurements and went to the files, only to return with a card for a “William” West. Turns out, Will and William bore an uncanny resemblance (they may have been identical twins). And their Bertillon measurements were a near match.
The clerk asked Will again if he’d ever been to the prison. “Never,” he protested. When the clerk flipped the card over, he discovered Will was telling the truth. “William” was already in Leavenworth, serving a life sentence for murder! Soon after, the fingerprints of both men were taken, and they were clearly different.
It was this incident that caused the Bertillon system to fall “flat on its face,” as reporter
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Bureau fingerprint experts at work in 1932
Don Whitehead aptly put it. The next year, Leavenworth abandoned the method and start fingerprinting its inmates. Thus began the first federal fingerprint collection.
In New York, the state prison had begun fingerprinting its inmates as early as 1903. Following the event at Leavenworth, other police and prison officials followed suit. Leavenworth itself eventually began swapping prints with other agencies, and its collection swelled to more than 800,000 individual records.
By 1920, though, the International Association of Chiefs of Police had become concerned about the erratic quality and disorganization of criminal identification records in America. It urged the Department of Justice to merge the country’s two major fingerprint collections—the federal one at Leavenworth and its own set of state and local ones held in Chicago.
Four years later, a bill was passed providing the funds and giving the task to the young Bureau of Investigation. On July 1, 1924, J. Edgar Hoover, who had been appointed Acting Director less than two months earlier, quickly formed a Division of Identification. He announced that the Bureau would welcome submissions from other jurisdictions and provide identification services to all law enforcement partners. The FBI has done so ever since.

Using fingerprints to catch the guilty and free the innocent was just the beginning. The lawlessness of the 1920s got the nation’s attention, and a number of independent studies—including the Wickersham Commission set up by President Herbert Hoover in May 1929—confirmed what everyone seemed to already know: that law enforcement at every level needed to modernize.
One glaring need was to get a handle on the national scope of crime by collecting statistics that would enable authorities to understand trends and better focus resources. Taking the lead as it did in many police reforms in the early twentieth century, the International Association of Chiefs of Police created a committee to advance the issue, with Hoover and the Bureau participating. In 1929, the Chiefs adopted a system to classify and report crimes and began to collect crime statistics. The association recommended that the Bureau—with its experience in centralizing criminal records—take the lead. Congress agreed, and the Bureau assumed responsibility for the program in 1930. It has been taking this national pulse on crime ever since.
Charles “Lucky” Luciano
Charles “Lucky” Luciano
The third major development was a scientific crime lab, long a keen interest of Hoover’s. After becoming Director, he had encouraged his agents to keep an eye on advances in science. By 1930, the Bureau was hiring outside experts on a case-by-case basis. Over the next few years, the Bureau’s first technical laboratory took root, thanks in large part to a visionary special agent named Charles Appel. By 1932, the lab was fully operational and soon providing scientific examinations and analysis for the Bureau and its partners around the country.
This trio of advances came just in time, as the crime wave that began in the 1920s was about to reach its peak. By the early 1930s, cities like St. Paul, Minnesota, had become virtual training grounds for young crooks, while Hot Springs, Arkansas, had turned into a safe haven and even a vacation spot for the criminal underworld. Al Capone was locked away for good in 1931 (thanks in part to the Bureau), but his Chicago Outfit carried on fine without him and would actually experience a resurgence in the coming decades. The “Five Families” of the New York Mafia were also emerging during this period, with “Lucky” Luciano setting up the “Commission” to unite the mob and “Murder, Inc.” to carry out its hits. Prohibition was ultimately repealed in 1933, but by then, the Great Depression was in full force, and with honest jobs harder to come by than ever, the dishonest ones sometimes seemed more attractive than standing in soup lines.
Employees of the “Ident” division in 1929. The Bureau began managing the nation’s fingerprint collections five years earlier
Employees of the “Ident” division in 1929. The Bureau began managing the nation’s fingerprint collections five years earlier.

By 1933, an assortment of dangerous and criminally prolific gangsters was wreaking havoc across America, especially in the Midwest. Their names would soon be known far and wide.
There was John Dillinger, with his crooked smile, who managed to charm the press and much of America into believing he was nothing more than a harmless, modern-day Robin Hood. In reality, Dillinger and his revolving crew of gunslingers—violent thugs like Homer Van Meter, Harry “Pete” Pierpont, and John “Red” Hamilton—were shooting up banks across America’s heartland, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars and murdering at least one policeman along the way.
The Birth of the FBI Lab
In the pages of FBI history, November 24, 1932, is considered the official birthday of the FBI Laboratory. But it is really a “declared” anniversary for what was an evolving concept.
From the 1920s on, Director Hoover had been actively interested in scientific analysis, and by 1930 he had authorized the use of outside experts on a case-by-case basis in identification and evidence examination matters. Then, over a two-year period, the first true “technical” laboratory functions began to take shape. When all these functions moved into Room 802 of the Old Southern Railway Building in Washington, D.C., it seemed appropriate to recognize that a true lab had been born.
Special Agent
Special Agent
Charles Appel
It was Special Agent Charles Appel who was its midwife. He had served as an aviator in World War I before joining the Bureau in 1924—and right from the start he focused on meticulous investigations based on scientific detection.
Appel was an extraordinary man with extraordinary vision, fully backed by Director Hoover with the necessary resources. He took courses to further his knowledge of state-of-the-art techniques, and by 1931, he began seeking expert opinion on starting a crime lab. In July 1932, when he proposed “a separate division for the handling of so-called crime prevention work” under which “the criminological research laboratory could be placed,” he got an immediate endorsement. By September, Room 802 in the Old Southern Railway building was fully equipped. By November 24, it was in business.
chapter2_img_13.jpg
The FBI Laboratory’s first home: Room 802 of the Old Southern Railway Building in Washington, D.C.
The new lab was pretty sophisticated by 1932 standards. It included a brand new ultra-violet light machine; a microscope, on loan from Bausch and Lomb until the requisition for its purchase could be finalized; moulage kits (for taking impressions); photographic supplies; and chemical sets. A machine to examine the interior of gun barrels was on order.
For about a year, Appel was the Bureau’s one-man lab. His handwriting and typewriter font analysis solved a poisoning case in 1933. His analysis of handwriting on the Lindbergh kidnapping ransom notes ultimately helped convict Bruno Richard Hauptmann.
Agents across the Bureau soon started receiving training on what this new lab could do for them and their cases, and they spread the word about the value of scientific work to their law enforcement partners.
By January 1940, the lab had a total of 46 employees. As America headed into a second world war, its growing skills and capabilities would be needed more than ever.

There was Clyde Barrow and his girlfriend Bonnie Parker, an inseparable, love-struck couple who—partnered at times with the Barrow brothers and others—were robbing and murdering their way across a half dozen or so states.
There was the ruthless, almost psychopathic “Baby Face” Nelson, who worked with everyone from Roger “The Terrible” Touhy to Al Capone and Dillinger over the course of his crime career and teamed up with John Paul Chase and Fatso Negri in his latter days. Nelson was a callous killer who thought nothing of murdering lawmen; he gunned down three Bureau agents, for instance, in the span of seven months. And there was the cunning Alvin Karpis and his Barker brother sidekicks, who not only robbed banks and trains but engineered two major kidnappings of rich Minnesota business executives in 1933.
The rising popularity of the FBI’s “G-men” spawned hundreds of toys and games.
The rising popularity of the FBI’s “G-men” spawned hundreds of toys and games.

“Machine Gun” Kelly and the Legend of the G-Men
Before 1934, “G-Man” was underworld slang for any and all government agents. In fact, the detectives in J. Edgar Hoover’s Bureau of Investigation were so little known that they were often confused with Secret Service or Prohibition Bureau agents. By 1935, though, only one kind of government employee was known by that name, the special agents of the Bureau.
George “Machine Gun” Kelly
George “Machine Gun” Kelly
How this change came about is not entirely clear, but September 26, 1933, played a central role in the apocryphal origins of this change.
On that day, Bureau of Investigation agents and Tennessee police officers arrested gangster George “Machine Gun” Kelly. He was a “wanted fugitive” for good reason. Two months earlier Kelly had kidnapped oil magnate Charles Urschel and held him for $200,000 in ransom. After Urschel was released, the Bureau coordinated a multi-state investigation, drawing investigative information from its own field offices as well as from other police sources, as it identified and then tracked the notorious gangster across the country.
On September 26, “Machine Gun” Kelly was found hiding in a decrepit Memphis residence. Some early press reports said that a tired, perhaps hung-over Kelly stumbled out of his bed mumbling something like “I was expecting you.” Another version of the event held that Kelly emerged from his room, hands-up, crying “Don’t shoot G-Men, don’t shoot.” Either way, Kelly was arrested without violence.
The rest is history. The more colorful version sparked the popular imagination and “G-Men” became synonymous with the special agents of the FBI.
All of these criminals would become “public enemies,” actively hunted by law enforcement nationwide. At first, the Bureau was playing only a bit part in pursuing these gangsters, since few of their crimes violated federal laws. But that began to change with the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping, which gave the Bureau jurisdiction in these cases for the first time; with the “Kansas City Massacre” in June 1933, a bloody slaughter at a train station that claimed the lives of four lawmen, including a Bureau agent; and with the rise to national prominence of John Dillinger.
“Doc” Barker
“Doc” Barker
Kate “Ma” Barker
Kate “Ma” Barker
Alvin Karpis
Alvin Karpis
Using whatever federal laws it could hang its hat on, the Bureau turned its full attention to catching these gangsters. And despite some stumbles along the way, the successes began to add up. By the end of 1934, most of these public enemies had been killed or captured.
Bonnie and Clyde were the first to fall, in May 1934, at the hands of Texas lawmen (with the Bureau playing a small supporting role in tracking them down). In July, Melvin Purvis and a team of agents caught up with Dillinger, who was shot dead leaving a Chicago theater. “Pretty Boy” Floyd, one of the hired hands of the Kansas City Massacre, was killed in a shootout with Bureau agents and local law enforcement on an Ohio farm in October 1934. And Nelson died the following month after a bloody firefight with two special agents, who were also killed.
The Bureau caught up with the rest soon enough. Agents arrested “Doc” Barker in January 1935, and the infamous “Ma” Barker and her son Fred were killed by Bureau agents in Florida eight days later. Alvin Karpis, the brains of the gang, was captured in May 1936 and ended up in Alcatraz.
In just a few transformative years, thanks to the successful battle against gangsters, the once unknown Bureau and its “G-Men” became household names and icons of popular culture. Along the way, Congress had given it newfound powers, too, including the ability to carry guns and make arrests. In July 1935, as the capstone of its newfound identity, the organization was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation—the FBI.
As the decade came to a close, the FBI would find itself shifting gears once again. War was brewing in Europe, and pro-Nazi groups were becoming more and more vocal in the U.S., claiming fascism was the answer to American woes. The gangsters, it turned out, were just a prelude to the dark days to come.
Above: The Florida home (right) where “Doc” and “Ma” Barker were killed in a shootout with Bureau agents. Top Right: The cache of Barker weapons recovered by agents after the firefight
Above: The Florida home (right) where “Doc” and “Ma” Barker were killed in a shootout with Bureau agents. Top Right: The cache of Barker weapons recovered by agents after the firefight

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Corleonesi within the Sicilian Mafia

The Corleonesi are a faction within the Sicilian Mafia that dominated Cosa Nostra in the 1980s and the 1990s. The informal name Corleonesi was applied by the media and government because its most important leaders came from the town of Corleone, first Luciano Leggio and later Totò Riina, Bernardo Provenzano and Leoluca Bagarella, Riina’s brother-in-law.

The Corleonesi coalition managed to take over the Sicilian Mafia Commission and imposed a quasi-dictatorship over Cosa Nostra, waging war against rival factions (also known as the Second Mafia War) from 1978–1983. The more established Mafia factions in the city of Palermo grossly underestimated the mafiosi from Corleone and often referred to the Corleonesi as i viddani – "the peasants".


Affiliations and membership beyond Corleone
Corleonesi affiliates were not restricted to mafiosi of Corleone. The Corleone Mafia bosses initiated “men of honour”, not necessarily from Corleone, whose status was kept hidden from the other members of the Corleone cosca and other Mafia Families. Members of other Mafia Families who sided with Riina and Provenzano were called Corleonesi as well, forming a coalition that dominated the Mafia in the 1980s and 1990s, that can be considered as a kind of parallel Cosa Nostra. (Giovanni Brusca from the San Giuseppe Jato Mafia Family was considered to be part of the Corleonesi faction for example)

The pentito (Mafia turncoat) Antonino Calderone provided first-hand accounts of the leaders of the Corleonesi: Luciano Leggio, Totò Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. About Leggio, Calderone said:

"He liked to kill. He had a way of looking at people that could frighten anyone, even us mafiosi. The smallest thing set him off, and then a strange light would appear in his eyes that created silence around him. When you were in his company you had to be careful about how you spoke. The wrong tone of voice, a misconstrued word, and all of a sudden that silence. Everything would instantly be hushed, uneasy, and you could smell death in the air."

"The Corleone bosses were not educated at all, but they were cunning and diabolical," Calderone said about Riina and Provenzano. "They were both clever and ferocious, a rare combination in Cosa Nostra." Calderone described Totò Riina as "unbelievably ignorant, but he had intuition and intelligence and was difficult to fathom and very hard to predict." Riina was soft spoken, highly persuasive and often highly sentimental. He followed the simple codes of the brutal, ancient world of the Sicilian countryside, where force is the only law and there is no contradiction between personal kindness and extreme ferocity. "His philosophy was that if someone’s finger hurt, it was better to cut off his whole arm just to make sure," Calderone said.

Another pentito Leonardo Messina described how the Corleonesi organized their rise to power:

"They took power by slowly, slowly killing everyone . . We were kind of infatuated with them because we thought that getting rid of the old bosses we would become the new bosses. Some people killed their brother, others their cousin and so on, because they thought they would take their places. Instead, slowly, (the Corleonesi) gained control of the whole system . . First they used us to get rid of the old bosses, then they got rid of all those who raised their heads, like Giuseppe Greco 'the Shoe', Mario Prestifilippo and Vincenzo Puccio . . all that’s left are men without character, who are their puppets."

Internal divisions and conflicts
In the 1990s a division emerged among the Corleonesi, following the arrest of Totò Riina on January 15, 1993. Following the months after Riina's arrest, there were a series of bombings by the Corleonesi against several tourist spots on the Italian mainland – the Via dei Georgofili in Florence, Via Palestro in Milan and the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and Via San Teodoro in Rome, which left 10 people dead and 93 injured as well as severe damage.

Provenzano proposed a new less violent Mafia strategy instead of the terrorist bombing campaign in 1993 against the state to get them to back off in their crackdown against the Mafia after the murders of antimafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Provenzano's new guidelines were patience, compartmentalization, coexistence with state institutions, and systematic infiltration of public finance. Provenzano reportedly re-established the old Mafia rules that had been abolished by Riina under his very eyes when, together with Riina and Leoluca Bagarella, he was ruling the Corleonesi coalition.

Giovanni Brusca – one of Riina's hitmen who personally detonated the bomb that killed Falcone, and became a state witness (pentito) after his arrest in 1996 – has offered a controversial version of the capture of Totò Riina: a secret deal between Carabinieri officers, secret agents and Cosa Nostra bosses tired of the dictatorship of Riina’s faction of the Corleonesi. According to Brusca, Provenzano "sold" Riina in exchange for the valuable archive of compromising material that Riina held in his apartment in Via Bernini 52 in Palermo.

In 2002 the rift within the Corleonesi coalition became clear. On the one hand there were the hardliners in jail – led by Totò Riina and Leoluca Bagarella – and on the other the more moderate, known as the "Palermitani" – led by Bernardo Provenzano and Antonino Giuffrè, Salvatore Lo Piccolo and Matteo Messina Denaro. The incarcerated bosses wanted something to be done about the harsh prison conditions (in particular the relaxation of the 41-bis prison regime) – and were believed to be orchestrating a return to violence while serving multiple life sentences. During a court appearance in July 2002, Leoluca Bagarella suggested unnamed politicians had failed to maintain agreements with the Mafia over prison conditions. "We are tired of being exploited, humiliated, harassed and used as merchandise by political factions," he said.


Antonino Giuffrè – a close confidant of Provenzano, turned pentito shortly after his capture in April 2002 – alleges that in 1993, Cosa Nostra had direct contact with representatives of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi while he was planning the birth of Forza Italia. The deal that he says was alleged to have been made was a repeal of 41-bis prison regime, among other anti-Mafia laws in return for delivering electoral gains in Sicily. Giuffrè's declarations have not been confirmed.

According to press reports, when Provenzano was moved to the high security prison in Terni after his arrest in April 2006, Totò Riina’s son Giovanni Riina, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for three murders, yelled that Provenzano was a "sbirro" – a popular Italian diminutive expression for a police officer – when Provenzano entered the cell block, insinuating that Provenzano cooperated with the police (maybe referring to the arrest of his father).






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