10. Mafia Contract Killers Crisscrossed America to Carry Out Hundreds of Murder Each Year
Lucky Luciano wanted to insulate the mafia, particularly its higher ups, from any evidence that could link them with the murders that accompanied their business. So Lepke Buchalter set up a system that relied upon multiple cutouts between the mafia’s governing body, The Commission, which ordered or sanctioned hits, and the actual contract killers. The latter were thugs from Italian and Jewish street gangs, unconnected to the mafia and its bosses, and thus could not implicate them if caught. They operated out of Midnight Rose, a coffee and candy shop in Brooklyn, where the killers hung out and waited for assignments.
Buchalter’s lethal hitmen crisscrossed America, and carried out dozens or hundreds of murders each year. Their boss’s quiet demeanor was in sharp contrast with his actual viciousness and literal murderousness. Buchalter was dangerously paranoid, and in his final years, he went on a mission to murder any potential witnesses who might have criminal evidence that could be used against him. Because karma sometimes loves irony, it was the murder of one of these potential witnesses in 1936 that ultimately doomed Buchalter.