New York Mafia Hit By Tough Times During Covid-19 Shutdown

It’s not just legitimate businesses going through hard times during the pandemic, it seems the mob are being hit hard too. Covid-19 appears to be succeeding where the likes of Rudolph Giuliani and Robert Kennedy failed.

Mob mainstays such as illegal gambling, construction and extortion have all been affected by the coronavirus, with the closing of restaurants and other eateries, and most building projects grinding to a halt. The worst hit is the illegal gambling rackets, with most major sporting events facing cancellation. This could wipe out tens of millions of dollars just in illegal gambling income alone.

Law enforcement sources told the New York Post “There’s never been a time when they weren’t making money through gambling,” said one insider. “Since the days of Lucky Luciano, when the Five Families started. This is historic.” Thanks to the internet – which replaced the cramped social-distancing nightmares of yesteryear’s wire rooms – it looked as though illegal betting would emerge unscathed during the virus’ early days, sources said. Then came the postponements and cancellations – the NBA, MLB, March Madness, the NHL, MLS, horse racing and pro golf, to name a few. With virtually all American sports in an indefinite timeout until the disease burns out, a few dedicated gamblers have tried their hands at wagering on African cricket and Australian soccer matches, sources said, but the underground betting scene has largely gone dry. “A lot of people are living off that money,” said one source. 

Mulberry Street, Little Italy, Manhattan
Pic: Reuters/Mike Segar

“Construction’s a very big deal because it has a lot of branches,” one law enforcement source said, noting that goodfellas don’t just profit off jobs themselves but related ventures like trucking and the ports.

The one business that appears not to be taking a downturn is narcotics. “There’s still deals being made,” one insider told the New York Post, speaking generally of the drug trade and not the mob’s involvement.

Talk caught recently on surveillance wires indicates a possible shift in that direction for the Mob, according to sources.

“A lot of the time, the big topic of conversation would be talking about gambling. That’s dried up,” one source said, noting the focus has turned to narcotics.

But even drug-peddling would be a tricky business these days, as there are very few places open in which to distribute narcotics. The usual restaurants, bars and strip clubs are all closed indefinitely by state order.

It’s a shutdown that anti-mob crusaders like US Attorney General Kennedy, then-federal prosecutor Giuliani and pioneering NYPD Lt. Joseph Petrosino – slain by Sicily’s Black Hand extortion racket in 1909 – tried for more than 100 years to achieve, one source said.

“This is doing what they couldn’t do.”

(Quotes taken from an original article dated March 29, 2020, written by Larry Celona and Aaron Feis in the New York Post)

This post contains affiliate links. We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. This is at no extra cost to you, and it helps to keep our website going. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!