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|Santo Trafficante, Sr.|
|Born||March 28, 1886|
|Died||April 11, 1954(aged 68)|
|Occupation||Criminal underworld figure, racketeer, money launderer, Mafia associate and boss|
|Spouse||Maria Guiseppe Cacciatore, 1909–1954 (his death)|
|Children||5 sons, including mobster Santo Trafficante, Jr.|
Early life[edit | edit source]
At the age of 14, Trafficante settled permanently with his family in the United States after having already spent much time between Florida and his homeland of Sicily; young Santo soon became fluent in both English and Spanish and quickly assimilated into the Gulf Coast culture.
In 1909, Santo began courting Maria Giuseppe Cacciatore, the sister of reputed Tampa drug kingpin Jo Jo Cacciatore. The two wed that April, and had five sons; their second son, Santo Trafficante Jr., followed his father into organized crime and rose high in the ranks of the criminal underworld.
Criminal career[edit | edit source]
Santo Trafficante, Sr. first gained power as a mobster in Tampa as an associate, and later as a high-ranking member, of the Antinori crime family, helping run illegal bolita numbers rackets during the 1920s. At the same time, in addition to his criminal work for Ignacio Antinori, he began to invest heavily in his own bolita numbers rackets, beginning in Tampa and expanding throughout Central Florida.
History of bolita[edit | edit source]
Introduced to Ybor City in the 1880s, bolita (meaning literally, little ball) peddlers like Trafficante, Antinori, and famed Southern mobster Charlie Wall soon trafficked chances in Hyde Park, Downtown, and the Scrub district, with the domain quickly expanding throughout Central Florida, as well as much of the rest of the state and Gulf Coast region.
Ascension in bolita racketeering[edit | edit source]
During the late 1920s, a fierce and bitter criminal turf war began between Wall and Antinori, who both fought each other as well as Trafficante for control of the illegal numbers rackets in the Tampa, Florida, area. The feud between Wall and Antinori came to a violent head between factions of the Antinori gang, dissatisfied members of Chicago and St.Louis criminal outfits to whom Antinori was supplying narcotics, and Wall's crew.
On the morning of October 23, 1940, Antinori was gunned down at his home, reputedly by a Chicago outfit that had become dissatisfied with the narcotics products that Antinori had been supplying to them; many, including the police, speculated that Wall may have had ties to the hit.
From about 1930 until Antinori's death, with both Wall's and Antinori's criminal ranks depleted by the casualties and lives lost by their fighting each other, Trafficante and his son, Santo Jr., were able to seize control of the Antinori's bolita rackets in the Gulf Coast region; after Antinori's death, they were able to gain complete control when Wall retired in 1945 and conceded his power and all his operations to the father–son duo.
Trafficante began to assume control of the Mafia in Tampa, becoming the new boss of the Antinori family in October 1940, and kept control the criminal rackets in the Central Florida area until his death in 1954. Trafficante was heavily involved in the operation of bolita lotteries. During his reign, Trafficante was a well-respected boss with ties to Lucky Luciano and Tommy Lucchese. He sent his son, Santo, Jr., to New York to learn from other mobsters. Upon his death, Trafficante, Sr. bequeathed his power to his son. This was a respected decision since the New York bosses and Tampa mobsters liked Santo, Jr.
See also[edit | edit source]
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Dietche, Scott M. Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld. Barricade Books, 2004. ISBN 1-56980-266-1
[edit | edit source]
- Cuban Information Archives: Santo Trafficante Jr., includes U.S. Treasury Department records of Santo Trafficante, Sr.
- Creative Loafing: The Mob -- A Drive-By Historical Tour of Tampa's Notorious Wise Guys by Scott Deitche