5. The Mob Feud That Triggered the Italian-American Mafia’s Most Infamous Gang War
Throughout much of Prohibition, the Italian-American mafia was led by rivals Joe “The Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. Years of mounting tensions between their criminal organizations finally exploded into a bloody struggle that came to be known as The Castellammarese War, from February, 1930, until April, 1931. Masseria had been America’s dominant Mafiosi in the 1920s. He ran a powerful crime family whose ranks included future mob bosses such as Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Vito Genovese, and Frank Costello. However, a Don Vito Ferro, a mafia chieftain from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, decided to reach out and wrest control of the American mafia. To that end, Ferro sent Salvatore Maranzano to establish the rival Castellammarese faction.
The Castellammarese included future bosses such as Joe Profaci, Joe Bonano, and Stefano Maggadino. In 1928, the factions began to hijack each other’s alcohol trucks and otherwise encroach upon and disrupt their rival’s bootlegging operations. The struggle broke out into the open in February, 1930, when Masseria had a Castellammarese Detroit racketeer killed. The Castellammarese retaliated a few months later with the murder of a key Masseria enforcer in Harlem. A few weeks later, they got a Masseria ally whom he had earlier betrayed, the Reina family, to switch sides, and kill a key Masseria loyalist on their way out. Masseria responded in October, 1930, when he sent one of his key lieutenants, Alfred Mineo, to kill a key Castellammarese ally, Joe Aiello, in Chicago.