From The Godfather to Goodfellas to The Sopranos, Hollywood storytellers have been endlessly fascinated by the misbehavior of gangsters and the mafia.
But even when they’re taking inspiration from real-life events, those filmmakers seldom seem to capture the insane creativity of their subjects. In a report published Tuesday, the New York Times described how Italian mobsters would use frozen fish to smuggle narcotics into New York City.
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That said, the mobsters weren’t that clever; after all, they did get caught. In a recorded conversation, Brooklyn bakery owner Franco Lupoi revealed this tactic to authorities, in the process helping them uncover plans by a European criminal organization to expand its holdings into New York. United States attorney Loretta E. Lynch said Tuesday, “We put an end to the ’Ndrangheta’s attempts to gain a foothold in New York.”
One imagines it was probably better for investigators to find the frozen fish than frozen bodies, as in Goodfellas. That said, the opening scenes of Martin Scorsese’s film appear to be fairly accurate – though it has yet to be revealed whether Lupoi ever shoved a mailman’s head in a pizza oven.
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Nevertheless, Lupoi’s bakery was apparently a hotbed of criminal activity, according to details in court papers for the case. One of its defendants, 42-year-old Raffaele Valente, sold a handgun and silencer to an undercover FBI agent. Meanwhile, suspect Charles Centauro was indicted as another conspirator, although his lawyer maintains that he was a deliveryman.
“Does he know these guys in Italy? I don’t think he had any dealing with any of them,” Centauro’s attorney Joseph Mure explained. “When you live in a neighborhood such as Brooklyn, you sometimes know certain people. You know people who get picked up in a case, but you may not necessarily be involved.”
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Watch the lost New York classic The Electric Chair starring Victor Argo (Taxi Driver, True Romance) via Double Feature TV on FilmOn:
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