When the Mob and the CIA plotted to kill Castro
This is the spectacular Fontainebleau Hotel, in Miami. As the opening of Chapter 9 of my new book Hidden Power explains, this was the scene for one of the most extraordinary collaborations between state and criminal power in American - and arguably, international - history:
"September 1960, at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. A senior US Central Intelligence Agency official meets with two men—‘Sam Gold’ and ‘Joe’—contracted for what the official later calls ‘a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action’. The term ‘gangster-style’ was not accidental. The two men were Sam Giancana and Santo Trafficante Jr., both members of the mafia Commission, both at the time on the FBI’s list of the ten most wanted criminals. Their sensitive mission? The assassination of Fidel Castro.
Over the next three years, the CIA equipped the Mob with cash, radios, guns and even deadly botulinum pills with which to poison Castro. But the Mob also went further. It mounted full-scale transnational armed attacks into Cuba directed at both government and civilian targets. And it helped to organize and finance Cuban governments in exile with the hope that once they were installed in power they would return the Mob to its hidden role in Cuban government. The CIA-Mob collaboration to kill Castro and install an alternative government in Cuba ultimately failed, but not before seemingly impacting other US counter-revolutionary efforts such as the paramilitary invasion at the Bay of Pigs. And ultimately the costs of these failed collaborative schemes may have been even higher: Lyndon Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy and a US House of Representatives Select Committee all saw signs that the cooperation may have backfired, ultimately killing not the leader of Cuba, but rather the leader of the US—President John F. Kennedy.
Why was the CIA cooperating with the Mob to begin with? And why would the Mob risk exposing its leadership, networks and organizations to penetration by the US government for such an operation?"
These are the questions I explore in Chapter 9 of Hidden Power. Purchase it here.