The first episode looks at Sam “Mooney” Giancana who in 1961 was the boss of the Chicago organised crime outfit and the heir of Al Capone. “Mooney” Giancanae controlled the Las Vegas casinos, and made millions for the mob, but he was also violent and unpredictable and he made a disastrous mistake. In a deal in part brokered by Frank Sinatra, he helped get John F Kennedy elected President. But instead of giving him favours in return, JFK made his brother Bobby Attorney-General. Bobby then unleashed a fevered campaign against organised crime. For the first time in its history, the Mob was on the run. Not even the assassination of both Jack and Bobby Kennedy could end the pressure on the Chicago mob. In 1975 Sam Giancana was brought back as a reluctant FBI witness. His former colleagues were waiting for him. He was shot in the head at close range by a friend with a silenced .22 revolver.
Lucky Luciano was the man who put the “organised” into organised crime. A visionary as well as a killer, he turned the Mafia from an unruly collection of warring gangs into a “crime corporation”, as big as General Motors or US Steel. In 1999, Time Magazine put him among the 100 most important people in America’s history. Luciano began as a low-level hoodlum, making hits, bootlegging and running prostitutes. But he also had a dream. To become really rich, the Mafia needed to copy the methods of legitimate business. It needed business divisions, a board of directors who could agree strategy, allocate resources and resolve disputes. It worked. Under Luciano the Mafia entered a golden phase, expanding into transport, gambling and narcotics. The Mob started to buy control of politicians and judges. It became untouchable. Watching his rise with horror was Thomas Dewey, the New York Attorney-General. Dewey was a man-on-the-make, with huge political ambitions. He would very nearly become president. His problem was that J. Edgar Hoover didn’t care about eh Mafia. Hoover just thought it was a disconnected collection of small gangs that the local law enforcement should handle. So Dewey had to take on the mob alone. What then followed was a gripping tale of cat and mouse, as Dewey slowly built his case against Luciano. It seemed to end in a classic court-room trial, with Luciano being sent to jail for up to 50 years. But there would be even more twists to come. Because when World War 2 broke out, the US government found it needed Lucian’s help…
Joe Colombo was always flamboyant. He loved fame. He loved celebrities and he loved money. But he was the only mobster who actually went out looking for trouble with the authorities... Colombo was fed up with the way the FBI was harassing him. It was the 1970s and Colombo was much taken by what he had seen of “people power” – student protests, Gay Rights marches, and, of course, Martin Luther King. So he decided to set up his own organisation – the Italian-American Civil Rights League. Soon he was picketing FBI offices, holding rallies and building a nationwide civil rights movement. And it worked. The FBI found it couldn’t lay a finger on him as he won a strong of civil liberties actions. Unfortunately for Colombo, his fellow mobsters didn’t like the attention he was getting and he was shot in a sensational high-profile assassination attempt in front of thousands at one of his Italian-American Unity Day rallies in the heart of Manhattan. The shooting was captured by the world’s media. Joe died eight years later, never recovering from a coma. All around him the family he once ran started to fall apart...
In 1985 Gotti watched from his car as his assassins ruthlessly gunned down Paul Castellano, the boss of the Gambino Family. Just a few days later, Gotti was himself proclaimed the Gambino boss and it wasn’t just the Mafia who knew about it. He soon became known as ‘The Dapper Don’ for his slick suits, outspoken personality and flamboyant life-style. Soon the FBI were after him, but it seemed Gotti was uncatchable. Dramatic, highly publicised and seemingly water-tight cases always seemed to end in acquittals. But, then in 1992 a trusted associate ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano turned on him. In an unexpected twist to another media-frenzied trial against Gotti, Gravano was persuaded to give evidence against his boss. Worse still, Gotti had openly spoken about numerous murders – and it all had been recorded by the FBI wiretapping teams. The results for Gotti were devastating.
In the three years after the Chicago mob sent Tony Spilotro to Las Vegas there were more gangland murders in the city than in the previous 25 years. This was not a coincidence. Tony Spilotro was a cold-hearted killer. Despite being almost continuously under investigation and a suspect in over 20 murders, he operated for over ten years in Vegas without conviction for even a minor offence, thanks to bribery and intimidation. In 1986, the police and the FBI had a breakthrough. They persuaded one of Spilotro’s long-term henchmen, Frank Cullotta to turn informer. As the cases for murder and burglary mounted up, Spilotro suddenly became a problem for the Mob.
Another gripping episode of TV’s most dangerous documentary series focuses on the cold-hearted killer, Vita "Don Vito" Genovese. Born near Naples, Italy, Genovese moved back and forth between Italy and the US throughout an incredibly wide-ranging career. At one point he was even employed by the US military after the Allied invasion of Italy in World War Two! Don Vito did more than anyone to take the Mafia into the world of drugs, yet ultimately, he would be responsible for an error so huge that it would at last bring the wrath of the FBI down on organised crime.
Ruthless and fearsome, Carmine Galante was the man behind the real “French Connection” – the person who took the Mafia into heroin. So when he was sentenced to 12 years, it seemed the authorities had got rid of a bad one. How wrong they were. For once in jail, Galante mused on the Heroin business and he began to work out how to do it both bigger and better. Galante decided that he would be the Mob’s first druglord. And he would use the profits to seize control of the Bonnano crime family. His timing was perfect. When he came out of jail, America was entering the 70s, and heroin was taking becoming the drug of choice in New York’s vast housing estates. Galante set up networks to deal direct with the Sicilian Mob to import the drug into the US. He even devised a network of pizza parlours to distribute the gear. But all that wealth began to draw envious glances from other mobsters. Galante thought he was safe surrounded by hired muscle from his Sicilian homeland...but he was wrong. His killing by masked gunmen as he tucked into a fish lunch at Joe & Mary’s is the most famous of all the Mafia’s greatest hits.
Even today, Joe Pistone lives in hiding. He remains the Mafia’s most wanted man. But this film tracks him down and Pistone tells in his own words how he infiltrated the Mafia for six years and became close to some of its most senior figures. Joe Pistone was an FBI undercover specialist. He adopted the cover of Donnie Brasco, a jewel thief and gradually built up a variety of mob connections. The most important of these was with Sonny Black Napolitano, a capo in the Bonnano crime family. Sonny eventually made Pistone, as Donnie Brasco, an offer he had to refuse. He wanted him to become a “made man” - a fully-fledged member of the mob. But to do that, he would have to kill someone. The FBI pulled him out, but by then they had enough evidence to send over 2200 mobsters to jail. Sonny Black, the man who brought him into the Mafia in the first place, refused FBI protection and at first refused to believe that his pal Donnie could be an FBI agent. He was brutally assassinated by the Mob as a punishment.
Allen Dorfman may not have been a mobster himself, but he was vital to the Mafia's success and knew all its secrets. Dorfman used his access to the pension fund of one of America's biggest Unions to set himself up as banker to the Mob. The FBI realised that if they went after Dorfman they could potentially leave the Mafia bankrupt. And so, the biggest wiretapping operation in history rolled into motion. However, once it became clear that Dorfman was heading to jail the Mafia realised that he might try to use his insider knowledge for a plea bargain. Could they take the risk? I think we know how this is going to end...
Joe Valachi breaks the Mafia's code of silence and discloses the organization's secrets to the government and the world.
Roy DeMeo, a member of the Gambino crime family, leads a crew that murders and dismembers dozens of people.
Meyer Lansky was an associate of mobster Charles "Lucky" Luciano and linked to criminal financial operations, but the FBI struggled to pin anything on him.
Revealing what happened when the FBI pursued the five clans who ran organised crime in New York, as well as the fate of two brave informers.
A profile of Arnold Rothstein (1882-1928), who was accused of conspiring to fix Major League Baseball's 1919 World Series, and was the criminal genius behind a bootleg empire.
As the head of Murder Inc., Albert Anastasia would oversee the American Mafia's most violent period in history. As Luciano's go-to killer, Albert and his hitmen committed murder wholesale. He was an unpredictable psychopath who outlived his usefulness
Under the disguise of mental illness, Vincent Gigante evaded the authorities and rose to become a powerful mobster in New York. When the FBI realized their mistake, they stopped at nothing to take him down.
Joe Massino, the "Last Don", crushes anyone who goes against the mafia code of omerta. Loyalty to his family and obedience to their code of silence is everything. But when the FBI takes Massino down, he takes everyone down with him
In the 1980's and 90's the mafia controls the New York criminal underworld; by the early 200's evidence surfaces that the mob has gone much further and has people inside the NYPD.
In the lawless days of Prohibition America, one gangster, Dutch Schultz, stands out as the black sheep; when Dutch threatens to kill a state prosecutor, the mob can't risk the fallout, so they send Dutch a special message: a body full of lead.
America's first superstar gangster, Al Capone, dominated headlines and is said to be responsible for the bloody Valentines' Day Massacre. After being made the face of organized crime by US government Capone's public image brings about his downfall.
Crazy Joey Gallo: psychopathic killer, beatnik hipster and renegade mobster. Determined to make his way to the top, he wages all-out war against the US government and sparks a revolution in the mafia before going down in a hail of bullets.
Bugsy Siegel, The Jewish gangster with charm and a killer's instinct, plays hard and dreams big. He's got a vision to build a gambling mecca in the Nevada desert; but when he stops playing by the Mafia's rules, Bugsy pays the ultimate price
Florida and Cuba were ruled by top don Santo Trafficante. The King of Cuba's casinos was on the verge of mob stardom when a revolution destroys his plans. It results in a secret alliance between the mob and the CIA and a failed assassination attempt.