Nick Name: The Cigar, Lilo
Birthday: February 21, 1910
Died At Age: 69
Sun Sign: Pisces
Born Country: United States
Born in: East Harlem, New York, United States
Notorious As: Drug Trafficker
Spouse/Ex-: Antoinette Acquavella, Elena Ninfa
father: Vincenzo James Galante
mother: Vincenza Russo
siblings: Angelina Galante, Josephine Galante, Peter Galante, Samuel Galante
children: Angela Galante, Camille Galante, James Galante, Mary Lou Galante, Nina Galante
Died on: July 12, 1979
place of death: Bushwick, New York, United States
Who was Carmine Galante?
Carmine Galant was an American crime boss, gangster, drug-trafficker, and head of the Bonanno crime family. As he always smoked cigar, he was also called "The Cigar" and "Lilo." He was extremely ruthless and cruel, and utterly indifferent to human life, which scared not only other Mafia members but also the law enforcement agencies. While he was in prison, he was diagnosed as a psychopathic and neuropathic personality. Born to Italian immigrants, he rose from obscurity to Mafia boss, controlling a large part of international drug-trafficking. He started exhibiting criminal tendencies quite early, and was sent to reform school at the age of 10. Throughout his life, he was involved in robbery, bootlegging, assault, gambling, extortion, and murder. He was arrested several times, but was not indicted in most of the cases. He was also sentenced to several years of imprisonment on different occasions, but in most cases he was released on parole, before serving his imprisonment term. During the 1970s, Galante started asserting his control on the narcotics trade and plotted to eliminate his rivals, which proved to be his end. The other crime families could clearly see his intentions - he wanted to become "the boss of the bosses."
Childhood & Early Crimes
Galante was born Camillo Carmine Galante on February 21, 1910, in East Harlem, Manhattan, New York, to Vincenzo Galante and Vincenza Russo. His parents had immigrated to New York City from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, in 1906.
He started showing the signs of a criminal mind as early as 10, when he was sent to reform school. Thereafter he formed a street gang on the ‘Lower East Side’ of the New York City. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and drifted toward criminal activities. During his teenage years, he worked at several places, including an artificial flower shop, trucking company and as a fish sorter. These jobs were, however, believed to be just covers.
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Early Criminal Activities
In December 1925, Galante admitted to the assault charges and on December 22, 1926, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
Galante allegedly murdered a police officer on March 15, 1930, during a robbery. He was arrested in August 1930, but could never be convicted for the crime.
In 1930, he shot and wounded a New York Police Department officer Joseph Meenahan, and also injured a six-year-old bystander, while trying to escape from the police, which had caught him and his gang members, when they trying to hijack a truck in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to 12 and a half years' imprisonment, on February 8, 1931. He was, however, released from prison on parole, on May 1, 1939.
By 1940, he was working for the underboss of the Luciano crime family, Vito Genovese – Carmine mostly carried out contract killings. By now, he had acquired a reputation of cold-blooded criminal, who was utterly indifferent to human life.
On January 11, 1943, Galante carried out a murder, which catapulted him from an ordinary gangster to a mafia star - the murder of Carlo Tresca, who published an anti-fascist newspaper in New York. Crime boss Genovese was living in exile in Italy to escape prosecution in America. He offered to eliminate Tresca as a favour to Benito Mussolini. He allegedly asked Galante to execute the plan. Galante was arrested on suspicion but was never charged in the crime. As a result of this, he was sent back to prison on charges of parole violation, only to come out on December 21, 1944.
The Bonanno Underboss
Galant rose from being chauffer of Joseph Bonanno, the Bonanno family boos, to capo and then became underboss. He was loyal to Bonanno and had great admiration for him.
In 1953, Bonanno asked him to go to Montreal to oversee the family’s drug business. The Bonannos imported large shipments of heroin from France into Montreal and then distributed it in the United States. The Canadian authorities got suspicious and suspected him of several murders, so he was deported back to the U.S., in 1957.
The Heroine Meeting & The Zips
In October 1957, Galante and Joseph Bonanno held a meeting (at the ‘Grand Hotel des Palmes’ in Palermo, Sicily), which was attended by various mafia mobsters and crime bosses, including Lucky Luciano and Giuseppe Genco Russo. It was decided at the meeting that the Sicilian mobsters would smuggle heroin into the United States, which would be further distributed by the Bonannos.
Thereafter Galante brought many Sicilians from his hometown to work as contract killers, bodyguards, and enforcers. These were known as “Zips” and he trusted the “Zips” more than the local-born gangsters.
In 1958, he was indicted for narcotics trafficking and went into hiding. He was, however, arrested by the New Jersey State Police officers on June 3, 1959. He was, however, released after posting $100,000 bail. In May 1960, he was indicted again on narcotics charges. His first trial ended in a mistral and he was sentenced to 20 days imprisonment for contempt of court. However, in the second trial, Galante was convicted and a 20 year imprisonment sentence was pronounced. He was 52 at that time.
While he was serving his sentence, Joseph Bonanno, along with his ally, Joseph Magliocco, tried to eliminate a few members of the Mafia Commission. When the commission came to know about it, Bonanno was sked to retire. Bonanno made several attempts to install his son Salvatore Bonanno, and the commission tried to run the family with several ineffectual bosses, one-after-another.
In January 1974, Galante came out of jail on parole, and in November the commission installed Philip "Rusty" Rastelli as the boss of the Bonanno family. However, Rastelli soon imprisoned and Galante seized the opportunity and took control of the Bonanno family.
In the late 1970s, Galante consolidated his narcotics trade and got several of his rivals eliminated, including 8 members of the Gambino crime family, as he had a longstanding rivalry with them. Galant’s intentions were very clear - to become “the boss of bosses.”
The other crime families could clearly see his aggressive and ruthless attempt at controlling the narcotics market, which threatened their existence. They got together and reached a consensus to kill him – even Joseph Bonanno is said to have given his consent. Finally, the commission gave its approval to kill him.
Galante was killed while he was having lunch at Joe and Mary's Italian-American Restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on July 12, 1979. Three masked men entered the restaurant, went to the patio and opened fire - Galante, Giuseppe Turano, and Leonard Coppola dies immediately. Galant’s Sicilian bodyguards, Baldassare Amato and Cesare Bonventre, were not shot – it is believed that they had helped the assassins.